Clinician's Corner: Caring for & cleaning braces

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July 8th, 2021

For adults and children alike, adding braces to your daily oral care routine can be a challenge. Techniques for brushing, flossing and even eating all change. But it doesn’t have to be difficult!

Here are a few key things to do between orthodontist visits:

  • Clean your teeth – brush and floss.
  • Wear your elastics or retainers as prescribed.
  • Avoid problematic foods.
  • Protect your braces.
Graphic image of teeth with braces, toothpaste, and toothbrush.

How to Brush Braces

Brush after every meal for two minutes, pointing the toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle toward the gumline. Be sure to brush the top and bottom of the orthodontic wires. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking sugary or acidic beverages. Ask your orthodontist about special brushes that are designed to clean around braces.

How to Floss Braces

Flossing is a multi-step process—

  1. Using a floss threader, thread floss under wire.
  2. Gently insert the floss between your teeth.
  3. Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the side of the tooth.
  4. Rub the floss gently up and down, keeping it pressed against the tooth.
  5. Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the other side of the tooth in that same space.
  6. Rub the floss gently up and down, keeping it pressed against the tooth.
  7. Gently pull the floss back through the wire and thread the next tooth space.
  8. Repeat flossing through all tooth spaces.

Ask your orthodontist about other items that may make flossing through braces easier.

Eating With Braces

Raw, sticky and crunchy foods should either be avoided or eaten carefully. Harder foods, like raw vegetables, can damage your braces and may be better if eaten after they are cut into smaller pieces. Sticky foods like caramel, gummy candies, taffy or chewing gum may get stuck in your braces and damage them, and crunchy foods like popcorn, hard pretzels, chips and more may get lodged in your braces and can cause wires to snap. Check with your orthodontist for a complete list of foods for you to avoid.

Protect Your Braces

Wearing a mouth guard while playing sports is important for everyone, and especially for those who wear braces. Call your orthodontist immediately if a wire, bracket, or other part of your braces feels loose or breaks.

Preparing to get braces? Click here for tips to help you get ready!

This information in this post is for general educational purposes only and does not warrant or represent any information as related to health as specifically appropriate for you. It is not intended to be medical advice or replace the relationship that you have with your health care providers. You should always seek medical advice on any diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. The information is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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