Tons of folks get braces these days, and why not? Who doesn’t want a perfectly straight smile they can feel proud of the next time they take a picture?
But even though braces can be super helpful for straightening your teeth, they can also be a real headache when it comes to brushing and flossing your teeth every day. The truth is, it’s a little tougher to thoroughly clean your teeth and keep your braces clean no matter how enthusiastic you are.
Good news, though – you can learn how to brush your teeth and floss with braces by using a few special techniques and spending a little extra time on your oral care.
What is the Best Way to Brush Your Teeth with Braces?
Since braces can make it much easier for food and plaque to form in the nooks and crannies of your teeth, you have to utilize proper brushing technique to prevent cavities and to get a big thumbs-up from your dentist to your next appointment.
As with all brushing sessions, using an electric toothbrush can be a huge help. Electric brushes can do a much better job of clearing away plaque and bacteria compared to manual brushes, and many of them even include two-minute timers so you always clean your teeth for the recommended time! Supersmile’s Zina45 Sonic Pulse toothbrush is a perfect example.
As for actual toothbrushing technique, follow these practices to do the best job possible when brushing your teeth with braces:
First, remove any elastics, bands, and any other removable parts from your braces. The more stuff you can clear away for your toothbrush, the better a job it will do
Next, brush around the wires and pins of your braces, moving from top to bottom and all the way around your upper and lower teeth together. Be sure to brush each individual wire – it’s all too easy for bacteria to collect on those thin surfaces
Now it’s time to brush your teeth. You should brush your teeth for two minutes in total, not counting the time you spend brushing your braces’ wires and pins. You can use your electric toothbrush’s automatic timer or just give each quarter of your mouth about 30 seconds
Then you can rinse and examine your teeth and braces. Check for any remaining spots of plaque or food particles
As you can see, it might take you a little longer than average to brush your teeth thoroughly with braces since you have to spend extra time cleaning the orthodontics themselves. But it’s well worth the extra effort. You’re already spending a lot of time and money straining your teeth so they look great – you may as well also make sure your teeth avoid cavities at the same time!
What Happens If I Brush My Teeth Normally with Braces?
What if you’re in a hurry and decide to just brush your teeth with braces like you would normally?
In that case, it’s still better than refusing to brush your teeth at all. But you won’t do as good of a job cleaning and your teeth may be more susceptible to cavities and other dental problems.
You see, you have to remove the elastic bands and other removable parts of your braces for you to do as thorough a cleaning job as possible. If you fail to do this, and you don’t directly brush the wires and pins of your braces, bacteria can remain even after a full two-minute brushing session.
How Many Times Per Day Should You Brush Your Teeth with Braces?
It’s normally recommended that you brush your teeth twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening. But when you have braces, it’s an even better idea to brush after every major meal or if you eat a snack that includes food that can easily get stuck between your teeth, like candy or peanut butter.
Brushing your teeth more frequently can ensure that bacteria have very little chance of spreading and stripping away your teeth’s enamel layer. At the same time, brushing too often can strip away the enamel layer of your teeth and lead to dental problems.
For the best results, split the difference between two and four times and brush your teeth three times per day if you have braces.
How Do I Floss with Braces?
It’s also important to floss if you have braces – in fact, it might be even more important to floss with braces than it is without! Floss can get into the nooks and crannies of your wires and pins.
But lots of people (reasonably) find flossing with braces to be a bit tricky. Follow these helpful steps to get the best results:
For starters, make sure you buy waxed floss. Unwaxed floss is much more likely to get caught or shredded apart in your braces. You can alternatively use dental tape or special brace floss to clean around your braces’ pins and wires.
- Take the waxed floss and carefully thread it underneath the primary wire (also called the archwire) of your braces, top or bottom. Then pass it between the two teeth.
- When moving the floss, do so gently rather than snapping it back and forth.
- You will need to remove the floss and thread it under the primary brace wire to get between each pair of teeth. Take your time and don’t rush things.
- Then repeat the process for your bottom teeth.
Ultimately, learning to floss your teeth will take a little bit of practice, but before long you’ll have it down pat. The important thing is to make peace with the fact that it’ll take a bit longer than if you flossed without braces.
Make sure you always use a solid waxed floss like Supersmile’s Professional Whitening Floss. Not only can this floss capably clean between your teeth, but it’ll whiten them at the same time, all without increasing tooth sensitivity!
Should I Floss or Brush First with Braces?
It’s a good idea to brush your teeth first with braces before flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of the majority of plaque and bacteria and can even clean a little bit between pairs of teeth. You should use your floss after brushing to get any remaining food particles and plaque between your teeth.
Can I Use Mouthwash with Braces?
Absolutely, and you certainly should! Mouthwash can finish the job started by your toothbrush and floss, cleaning away extra plaque and bacteria and even making it harder for plaque to form in the hours after your brushing session.
Most mouthwash products won’t damage your braces unless they’re made with certain materials. When in doubt, ask your orthodontist if mouthwash is safe, but odds are they’ll give you the go-ahead.
Try to use mouthwash twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening, for the best results. As a bonus effect, mouthwash will do wonders for your breath!
Does Having Braces Make Your Breath Stink?
Sometimes. Many people find that their breath smells noticeably worse after getting braces than it did before.
This is likely because it’s easier for plaque and bacteria to settle and stick around if you have braces than it is if you don't. However, braces by themselves don’t make your breath stink.
If you follow great brushing and flossing techniques, you should be able to get rid of all the extra plaque and bacteria, negating the halitosis effect. Add some excellent mouthwash to the mix and bad breath will be a thing of the past.
Other Tips for Taking Care of Your Oral Health with Braces
Alongside good brushing and flossing technique, there are other tips you can follow to maintain top-tier oral care while you have braces.
Think carefully about what you eat and drink. If you eat too many sugary or starchy foods, your teeth will necessarily have a lot more plaque to deal with. If you want your brushing and flossing sessions to be easy, minimize sugary and starchy foods
By the same token, keep your braces safe by avoiding biting particularly hard foods or biting into hard objects, like corn on the cob. When it comes to eating healthy fruits and vegetables, cut those foods into smaller pieces so you don’t damage the pins and wires of your braces. Also avoid any sweet or sticky candies and gum – not only can these damage your braces, but they’re very difficult to get out of your teeth!
Always use toothpaste infused with lots of fluoride. Fluoride is a fantastic dental care ingredient since it can strengthen your teeth’s enamel. Supersmile’s Professional Whitening Toothpaste is a great example
All in all, brushing and flossing your teeth with braces takes a little time and effort to get right. But once you have the proper technique down, you’ll do a great job of keeping your teeth and braces clean. By the time your braces come off, your teeth will be so clean that your orthodontist will undoubtedly be impressed!
Want to make sure you have the best tools for oral care while you have braces? Check out Supersmile today for toothpaste, top-tier electric toothbrushes, and more!