Brushing and Flossing with Braces
Proper oral hygiene with braces, including cleaning around bands and wires, is incredibly important to prevent plaque build-up. Without proper care, gum inflammation and tooth decay can occur.
The key to brushing and flossing effectively with orthodontic appliances is learning the best technique and practicing. Here are some excellent tips on how to get started:
If possible, brush teeth after every meal and snack to eliminate plaque build-up. If this isn’t practical, aim to brush four times daily, including:
Right before bedtime
It is important to use an appropriate toothbrush and to inspect the bristles routinely for signs of wear. As you brush, orthodontic appliances will wear and fray the bristles, so you may need to replace your toothbrush more often than usual.
A soft bristled toothbrush is recommended because it will not damage the archwire or brackets. Apply a small strip of toothpaste, preferably a brand with fluoride, to the brush. Keep in mind that every tooth has several sides that need to be thoroughly cleaned: the outside, the sides facing each other and the chewing side.
When brushing front-facing sides of the teeth, create a 45 degree angle between the brush and the gum line. Brush in gentle circular motions from the top of the tooth to the bottom and then from bottom to top. Try not to exert too much force on either the wire or the brackets. When brushing the inside angles of teeth, work methodically creating the same 45 degree angle with the brush. The back surfaces of the teeth should pose no additional problems and should be brushed in the regular way.
Next, use a specially-designed proxabrush (Christmas tree brush) to brush between two brackets at a time. Insert the proxabrush and use downward and upward motion. Continue until all the spaces between the braces are plaque-free. As a last step, if recommended by Dr. Day, use mouthwash to flush out remaining bacteria.
Though flossing between braces can be more time-consuming, it is also very important. Plaque and food particles can become stuck between the teeth and cause gum disease and tooth loss. Flossing should be done several times per day.
Floss threaders can be used or the floss can be wrapped around fingers in the standard method. First, thread a piece of floss underneath the archwire of the braces. Slide the floss in an up-and-down motion against the large surface of the tooth. Be very careful around the bracket and archwire, as they can easily be damaged by excess pressure.
Next, guide the floss between the teeth and use gentle sawing motions to move the floss from the gum line toward the top of the tooth. Repeat this motion several times. Then, using the same sawing motion, work the floss from the top of the tooth toward the gum line several times.
In some cases, flossing around orthodontic appliances can cause mild bleeding, which should go away. If this bleeding persists for several days, be sure to inform Dr. Day and his team.
If you have any questions or concerns about brushing and flossing with braces, please feel free to contact our office at 517-393-8500.
Day Family Dental
Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI