Just because you’ve gotten orthodontic braces doesn’t mean you don’t have to adhere to the American Dental Association’s recommendations for good oral hygiene. In fact, you should be even more mindful of practicing excellent brushing and flossing habits while wearing braces. At a minimum, you should brush your teeth twice daily for a full two minutes each time. You should also floss your teeth once daily. Read on for helpful tips for flossing and caring for your teeth while wearing braces.
Brushing with Braces: Tips to Follow
When you first get your braces, getting used to brushing your teeth can take a few days. This is because you need to make sure you’re brushing around the brackets thoroughly. You should follow the same tips whether you have metal braces or clear bracket braces.
- Rinse your mouth with water before brushing to loosen food particles around the brackets
- Brush gently along the gumline of both the top and lower arches. This is critical and often skipped. Your gums need gentle stimulation or they will get puffy and bleed
- Holding your brush at an angle, brush along the tops of each bracket
- Change the angle to brush along the bottom of each bracket
- Brush the entire visible surface of the teeth
- Brush the backside of the teeth
- Brush your tongue
- Rinse thoroughly
It is natural for this process to take longer than normal when you first get braces. Electric toothbrushes can be helpful but you still have to be careful to move the brush head to stimulate your gum line. In time you will get used to brushing your teeth with braces.
Flossing With Braces: Tips to Follow
Flossing can be a little more complicated with braces. This is especially true for young people who have begun interceptive or 2-phase orthodontics. Following these tips can make it easier.
- Thread the floss under the wire, or use a floss threader
- Gently slide the floss between the teeth and wrap a bit around each tooth to remove debris at the gum line
- Repeat the process between all teeth
Water flossers like Water Piks can make flossing easier when you have braces. It may be a bit messy at first, but you’ll learn to direct the water to the sink in time.
Food to Avoid When You Have Braces
Certain foods are notorious for getting stuck in the brackets of your braces. Others may damage the brackets. It is best to avoid them altogether while wearing braces. They include:
- Large wads of surgery chewing gum. Small pieces of sugarless gum are often okay once stronger wires are placed. Ask your orthodontist.
- Crunching on hard candies
- Chewy sticky candy like salt water taffy, laughy taffy, airheads.
- No ice chewing
Other foods you typically bite into should be cut into pieces when you have braces. These include:
- Hard dinner rolls/bread
- Fruits (apples, pears, peaches, plums)
- Raw vegetables
- Corn on the cob
- Meat on bones (chicken wings, etc.)
When wearing braces, it’s also wise to reduce your consumption of sugary foods. The reason? Sugary foods mix with bacteria in the mouth to form plaque. Plaque leads to tooth decay and gum disease, so minimizing sugary beverages and foods while wearing braces is best.
Foods That May Stain Your Teeth While Wearing Braces
If you consume a lot of foods or beverages that are also known to stain the teeth, consider scaling back when wearing braces. They can cause staining to the exposed part of the tooth, while the part of the tooth protected by brackets will not stain. Foods that are known to stain teeth include:
- Bright-colored sports drinks
- Tomato sauces and pastes
- Foods that use food coloring (frostings, icings)
If you have questions about foods to avoid or if you need help brushing or flossing with braces, reach out to your orthodontist. They are here to help improve your smile and will be more than willing to talk with you or invite you to the office to show you how to brush and floss properly.
Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation in Andover, MA
Andover Orthodontics provides interceptive orthodontics and comprehensive orthodontic treatment for adolescents and adults in Andover, MA. To schedule a consultation, call 978-475-0450. You may also send us a message to request an appointment.