The start of orthodontic treatment means making changes to your oral hygiene routine. While the process of brushing and flossing doesn’t change much when you have braces, you’ll need to plan for a little more effort than usual to get thoroughly clean. Making sure you properly brush around the brackets and wire to get any debris and bacteria while not causing any damage can be tricky. Our expert team at Windy City Orthodontics has 7 tips for brushing your teeth with braces to keep things easy and straightforward.
#1 Rinse thoroughly
Swish with warm water and spit it into the sink before brushing to remove any loose food particles that may have gathered underneath and around the brackets. You may need to do this a couple of times to get all of the debris out. Rinse as many times as necessary until the water you spit is clear. Once there are no longer pieces of debris, you can start brushing your teeth. It helps to choose an anti-cavity mouthwash to help reduce tooth decay and protect enamel. There are several brands and they will be labeled “anti-cavity rinse” and have the American Dental Association seal of approval on the label to indicate there is independent data supporting its use.
#2 Choose the right toothpaste
Patients who are old enough to get braces are usually no longer using children’s toothpaste. If your child is still using this kind of toothpaste when their treatment starts, it may be time to choose an option better suited to their oral health needs. The American Dental Association and Dr. Pakravan recommend toothpaste with fluoride and stronger compounds better able to combat and neutralize bacteria.
#3 Don’t forget your gums
After your braces are on, you may experience some gum sensitivity or inflammation. This is usually brief and will subside quickly. Try to follow the curve of the gums and teeth as you go from tooth to tooth. Make sure you are brushing not just the brackets and wires on the front faces of your teeth but that you are going all the way to your gums to get the plaque and debris that builds up there, as well. You should feel your toothbrush bristles gently touching your gumline all around.
#4 Brushing the brackets
Cleaning around brackets and wires can be challenging if you don’t take some time to prepare. Most of the time, the process is similar to brushing your teeth without braces, back and forth. With brackets on, you will need to adjust your toothbrush placement to get a good angle for effective cleaning. Start by holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush along the gum line. Next, shift the angle of the toothbrush so that you can carefully brush the tops of your brackets. Then, reposition the toothbrush to angle up so that you can brush under the brackets and wire. Brushing down from the top of the bracket, up from the bottom, and at a circular angle around them will help in getting those hard-to-reach places.
Be sure not to apply too much pressure that you damage the wires or brackets themselves. If you are using an electric toothbrush, dial back the intensity or even use a standard brush as you get to the pressure needed to properly clean your teeth with braces. All the debris and plaque to be removed is soft and will come off easily once you reach it. Gentle but thorough is the name of the game!
#5 Take your time
It takes time to adjust to having braces. It was tricky enough to get to the two-minute mark without braces and the added complications of brackets and wires being in the way can make you want to rush and skip important steps. It’s more important than ever to take your time when brushing during braces treatment to ensure the best results by the end of your treatment. Most electric toothbrushes come with a built-in timer that can keep you accountable while giving you an extra hand at the actual cleaning. You can also use a kitchen timer or the timer built into most tablets and phones to time yourself.
#6 Make sure to floss twice a day
Flossing is often the most overlooked step, especially for those who have the hardware of braces. It’s important that you don’t skip this step because debris, plaque, and bacteria can become lodged between teeth and brackets. There are disposable flossing sticks that can be used in a pinch to get to hard-to-reach places where debris can be lodged, called Platypus flossers. One of our team will give you a tool, like an interdental proxy brush, to help make this process easier. If not using a flossing stick, you can thread the dental floss under your archwire, then floss between your teeth like normal. Floss up to the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire. Floss threaders, Superfloss, and other products can be found at most grocery stores or pharmacies, or ordered online.
#7 Rinse again
Once you’ve finished brushing and flossing your teeth, rinse your mouth out again with warm water to wash out any of the loose particles knocked free during the process. This gives your mouth an extra cleansing boost and makes sure that no leftover debris gets lodged back in your braces.
Get your best smile at Windy City Orthodontics
Your smile needs the right team to back it up, and we want to be there for you. Whether you’re just getting started on your orthodontic journey or looking for a new office to visit, Windy City Orthodontics is your home for orthodontic treatment. Patients across the Chicago area have improved their oral health and overall confidence thanks to our treatment. With extensive education and training, and experience as a former clinical instructor at the University of Illinois, Dr. Pakravan is up-to-date on the latest in orthodontic treatment and technology. If you are wondering if this might be the best path to your brightest smile, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation.