How to brush your teeth with braces and other pro tips


So you’re well past your college years … and yet: you’ve found yourself in a new pair of braces. While this might not be how you would imagine your adult life would unfold, you are now officially mature enough to realize that braces are no substitute for basic oral hygiene. That said, braces present delicate challenges that make the care of your teeth very important.

Of course, cavities are always a risk. But many metal mouths are concerned about the appearance of white spots under or around the brace brackets. These marks occur when the acid in your mouth disrupts the calcium and other minerals in your tooth enamel. And yes, it is a sign that your oral hygiene efforts have failed. The point is, white marks are completely preventable – and so are cavities, gum inflammation, and other periodontal issues. All you need to do is familiarize yourself with the proper care of orthodontic appliances to keep your helicopters in top condition.

While they may seem like a hindrance to your regular dental routine, braces don’t actually put your teeth at a greater risk for these periodontal problems, says. Dr Joana Forsea, DDS, Assistant Professor and Clinical Director, Department of Orthodontics, New York University College of Dentistry. You are more at risk because of your behviour while wearing braces, ”she tells Bustle. “Periodontal problems and poor hygiene go hand in hand. “

Read on for everything you need to know to keep your teeth healthy, from how to brush your teeth with braces to top flossing experts recommend stocking up.

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Basics of orthodontic appliance maintenance

Because dental braces are a system of wires, bands, and brackets that attach to teeth, they’re also a minefield for food and bacteria residue – and it’s just your luck they’re especially difficult to clean. So while orthodontists may tell you to avoid certain foods (see gum, hard candy, carrot sticks, and whole apples) that could shatter your brackets before your braces can do their job, the truth is that your braces can shatter. number one job as a wearer of orthodontic appliances the patient has to keep. your. the teeth. to clean.

First of all, you need to brush your teeth after all meal or snack – not just in the morning and evening; floss at least once a day before your bedtime brush; to avoid sugary foods which are known to adversely affect dental health (looking at you, Sour Patch Kids); and schedule dental cleanings every three to six months.

Best Braces Toothbrush

Forget to choose your favorite color. You’ll want to start using a toothbrush that has extra soft bristles that won’t damage your braces. You’ll also want to look for one with a orthodontic head; Unlike brushes whose bristles are all the same length to create a flat surface, orthodontic toothbrush heads contain a recess in the bristle surface so you can bypass your brackets and reach your teeth.

If you have the bones to seriously invest in your teeth, Dr Ken Dillehay, DDS, the president of the American Association of Orthodontists, recommends Oral-B iO Rechargeable Toothbrush Series 9, which has a dentist-inspired brush head that vibrates to remove much more plaque than an old-fashioned manual toothbrush.

Best toothpaste for braces

Whether you usually swear by a toothpaste that tastes of cinnamon or classic peppermint, Dillehay recommends using a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel it is therefore more resistant to rot, he explains. His choice ? Crest Gum Detoxify, which uses an “activated foam” formula to remove bacteria from plaque in hard-to-reach places and reverse gingivitis and the first signs of decay.

How to brush your teeth with braces

Angles are essential when brushing teeth with braces: as you move the bristles back and forth, you should hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to pass over and under the wires and gums they themselves, explains Forsea. “The angle will help you flesh out any leftover food that may be trapped under the appliance and the gum tissue,” she tells Bustle.

Once you’ve mastered the technique, be sure to brush your teeth for a full two minutes after each meal or snack – you’re done when you’ve cleaned the front, back, and sides of the teeth as well as your gums. And if you can’t brush your teeth right after eating, because #life, Dillehay recommends rinsing your mouth with water to remove any lingering debris.

Best dental floss for braces

Many orthodontists recommend reusable thread threaders to help you pass the string under your threads. But Dillehay’s favorite flossing tools for people with braces are interdental brushes, which look like mini bottle cleaners or furry toothpicks depending on who you ask. No matter what you call them, they’re great for loosening plaque and food particles trapped between teeth and clearing debris that clings to brackets and wires, he says. Another option is water irrigators like the Oral-B Advanced Water Flosser, which quickly removes food particles with a gentle stream of water, explains Dillehay.

How to floss with braces

Experts agree that flossing before brushing is the most effective way to remove plaque, in part because it can help increase the amount of fluoride you absorb from your toothpaste, strengthen your teeth, and increase their resistance to decay, explains Dillehay. You’ll want to floss at least once a day to remove plaque and debris that just brushing can leave behind.

Flossing is very important when wearing braces because it is easy for food to get into every nook and cranny. That said, you will need to floss a little differently to get behind your strings and between your teeth.

When using a floss needle, thread the floss, then use one hand to thread it between the teeth, passing over the floss on the top teeth and underneath on the bottom. Use caution to avoid biting your gums and go slowly, flossing up and down each tooth. If you’re only keeping one takeout, remember to move the floss between your teeth by pulling on one end – don’t pop it out, which could cause your floss to burst or break a holder, Forsea warns. .

If this seems to require more coordination (or patience) than you have, consider an oral irrigator: point the tip towards the gum line and move from the back of the mouth to the front, doing a break between the teeth to clean both fronts and backs of the teeth. “Anything that works for the individual’s dexterity and compliance will clean teeth better, and that’s what I recommend,” says Forsea.

Best dental appliance mouthwash

As you walk the mouthwash aisle, Dillehay says keep your eyes peeled for a fluoride mouthwash, which strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent white marks on teeth. It should also contain cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), which kills germs, he adds, as it helps in protect your mouth from plaque and gingivitis. He recommends swishing with the alcohol free Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash For the job.

How to use a mouthwash with braces

OK, so you know how to whistle and spit. But when you have braces, you can benefit from soaking a interdental cleaner in a cap full of fluoride rinse before sticking it between your teeth to make sure you get fluoride protection in every nook and cranny, says Dillehay. Another option he suggests? Try using a fluoride rinse instead of the water in your irrigator for an even fresher mouth.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid While Wearing Braces

As mentioned earlier, a diet high in sugar is not recommended when wearing braces. Other items to cross off your grocery list by consulting an orthodontist: sodas, carbonated water, sweet teas, and sports drinks. If you can’t help but drink every now and then, reduce the insult to the injury by sipping through a straw, sprinkling water on after sips, and flossing and brushing afterwards, depending on the area. the experts. TBH, your best bet is to stick with the water. Staying hydrated helps produce saliva that nourishes tooth enamel and cleans the mouth, says Dillehay.

The bottom line

Aligning your teeth is not an alternative to taking care of them, especially since braces introduce a host of factors that could make cleaning more difficult. Follow the proper dental routine, and your time in adult orthodontic appliance wear can go much more smoothly.

Referenced studies:

Buzalaf, M. (2012). Saliva and dental erosion. J Appl Oral Sci.

He, S. (2011). A clinical study to assess the 12-hour antimicrobial effects of cetylpyridinium chloride mouthwash on supragingival plaque bacteria. J Clin Dent.

Kanduti, D. (2016). FLUORIDE: A REVIEW OF USE AND HEALTH EFFECTS. Mater Soociomed.

Skafida, V. (2018). Positive association between sugar consumption and the prevalence of dental caries independent of oral hygiene in preschool children: a prospective longitudinal study. Journal of Public Health.

Walsh, T. (2019). Fluoride toothpastes of different concentrations for the prevention of dental caries. Rev. from the Cochrane database system


Dr Joana Forsea, DDS, Assistant Professor and Clinical Director, Department of Orthodontics, New York University College of Dentistry

Dr Ken Dillehay, DDS, President of the American Association of Orthodontists

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