Brushing and Flossing with Braces

Brushing with braces.

If you or a loved one recently got braces, you may be wondering how best to take care of them, and how orthodontists near you recommend you clean your teeth. Here at Henseler & Kocian Orthodontics, we are committed to bringing top tier orthodontic treatment to the people of the greater Minneapolis area, so we have put together a list of tips and tricks to help keep your new braces clean. Whether you are in Stillwater or Woodbury, braces need special care, so find out what you need to do to keep your teeth and braces healthy.

What You Should Know About Brushing

You know how important it is to brush and floss properly when you're wearing braces — but what's the best way to do that? Let's start with the basic brushing tools: Either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (one that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges) can be effective. Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can work just as well. But be sure the electric brush is set to a moderate power level, so its vibrations don’t cause the back of the brush to hit the braces.

You should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day (preferably after meals), for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all of the tooth surfaces: the outside, the inside, and the chewing surfaces as well. Be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, and between brackets and gums — that's where food particles can easily become trapped.

Here's a brushing technique recommended by our Woodbury & Stillwater orthodontist:

  • Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth, and use small circular motions to gently polish them clean.
  • For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions.
  • Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, using a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish up by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.

Special Brushing Tools

Interdental toothbrush.

If you're having trouble cleaning the areas near brackets and wires, there are some special tools that may help. One is the interdental toothbrush, or proxabrush. It has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around, like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.

Another special cleaning tool is the oral irrigator or “water pick.” This device shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies. While it's easy to use, an oral irrigator isn't a substitute for a toothbrush or dental floss — but when used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it can be very effective.

Floss threader.

Don’t Forget to Floss

To keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, it's important that you floss at least once a day. But how do you floss down to your gums with the wire in the way? Flossing with braces is much easier with the help of a floss threader. Available at most supermarkets and drugstores, this device is used somewhat like threading a needle. You pull one end of floss through the threader, and then push the threader — carrying with it the free end of the floss — under the archwire. Now grasp the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth, and all the way under the gums until you hear a squeaky sound. Finally, pull it out and use a new section of floss for the next area.

Checking Your Oral Hygiene

Ever wonder how effective your tooth-cleaning techniques really are? There's an accurate way to tell, using special vegetable dyes called “disclosing solutions” or “disclosing tablets.” As they dissolve in the mouth, these dyes highlight plaque and food debris that brushing has missed. You can then easily remove the dyed spots — and you'll know for sure if your oral hygiene methods need a little “brushing up.”

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy now is an investment in your future. It enables you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment, and starts you toward a brighter smile that can last for a lifetime.

Schedule Your Next Appointment for Braces

If you live near Stillwater or Woodbury MN, Henseler & Kocian Orthodontics is here to provide you with excellent orthodontic care to help you achieve your dream smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or request a consultation to learn more about our braces options and how to keep them clean.