The Proper Way To Brush Your Teeth When You Wear Braces

Posted on: 13 January 2015

Even though you will be seeing your orthodontist or family dentist for professional teeth cleaning at least every six months, it's up to you to keep your mouth clean and healthy. Food gets caught easily between braces, so brushing takes a bit more effort. But proper oral hygiene prevents bigger problems so that you will have the beautiful smile you want when the braces come off:

Using the Right Toothbrush

Although you can use a regular, soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your braces, your orthodontist may recommend using an orthodontic toothbrush. The bristles are cut into a "V" shape and are lower in the middle than on the edges. You can also use an electric-powered or battery-powered toothbrush to clean your teeth and braces.

A toothbrush with a spiral interproximal brush attached to the handle is another tool you can use to dislodge food particles that get trapped between the brackets of your braces. Or, you can use a rubber tip gum massager to get food out from under and around the brackets.

Follow the general rule of replacing your toothbrush with a new one every 3 to 4 months. However, you may have to replace it sooner, as braces can wear down the bristles faster.

Steps for proper brushing:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water before brushing your teeth. This helps dislodge food particles that get stuck between your teeth and braces. You can also use a dental water jet, or oral irrigator, to remove plaque from between teeth and below the gum line. If you don't clean along the gum line well enough, you can develop gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, and have to wear your braces longer.

  • Put only a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on your toothbrush. Pass on the whitening toothpaste while you're wearing braces. Otherwise, when your orthodontist takes them off, the teeth underneath the brackets may not be as white as the rest of your teeth.

  • Angle your toothbrush downward to brush the tops of your teeth and braces. To brush the bottoms of your teeth and braces, reverse the direction and point your toothbrush upward. Proper brushing is all in the angle.

  • Brush gently, but do a thorough job of cleaning your teeth and braces.

  • Brush the front of each tooth surface, spending extra time on the areas where the braces touch your teeth. Use circular motions around the gum line where plaque tends to build up.

  • Brush the chewing surfaces of your molars and the sides and back of each tooth.

  • Remember to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. While plaque loves to hide along the gum line and in the grooves of your back molars, it can build up on the tongue and roof of your mouth.

  • Brush your teeth each morning, after every meal, and before you go to bed each night. Regular teeth brushing is critical to get rid of bacteria in your mouth before plaque can start forming.

Steps for proper flossing:

  • Use floss that has a plastic threader needle. Braces create some tight spaces that are hard to get to. The threader helps you get the floss under the arch wire of each bracket.

  • Floss between each tooth and under the gum line. It may take a bit of practice at first, by you'll get better at it each time you floss.

  • Floss every day. Simply brushing your teeth isn't enough to remove harmful plaque. If you floss only once a day, do it at night just before you go to bed. Food on your teeth while you sleep is an invitation for bacteria to grow, as yes, you can get cavities under your braces.

For more information, contact a company like Family Dentistry Of Woodstock to learn more.