Orthodontic Care: How Do I Brush and Floss With Braces?

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Though learning how to brush and floss with braces takes a little getting used to, following this simple guide should have you on the right track quickly.

Brushing with Braces

Picking the right brush is the first step in ensuring proper brushing with braces.  For manual toothbrushes, Dr. Mike recommends using either manual and electronic toothbrushes.  For manual brushes, Dr. Mike recommends an orthodontic toothbrush with soft bristles and a v-shaped appearance which allows for a proper fit to the contour of the teeth while cleaning.  For electronic brushes, be sure to apply an orthodontic head rather than the standard head supplied.  

After adding some toothpaste to the brush, begin in a back corner of the mouth while placing the bristles of the brush at a 45-degree angle against the back of the teeth.  As you brush, you should feel the bristles up along the gums.  Using small circular motions, slowly sweep the brush against only 1 or 2 teeth at any given time.  You should make at least 10 such circles before moving onto the next area.  Don’t hesitate to brush the brackets as well as they are secure and will not be dislodged through normal brushing forces.  When brushing the biting surfaces of the teeth, a back and forth motion should be made rather than a circular one.  

Extra care should be made after brushing to check hard-to-reach areas such as the bracket side of upper and lower back teeth, under the lip, or any other areas where food may be caught in the braces.  For patients with braces, an extra one or two brushes a day is recommended (preferably, after every meal) since there is an increased opportunity for food to be trapped between the brackets and teeth.  Lastly, when cleaning between the orthodontic wire and teeth, Dr. Mike recommends using a proxy brush (depicted in second video below).  

Since your toothbrush is now being used on metal surfaces in addition to enamel, it is important to change out the brush every 3 months to ensure the bristles are not overly worn and thus, less effective.

Flossing with Braces

For regular flossing between the teeth, it is more difficult with braces to gain access to those spaces using standard floss.  As such, it is helpful to use a reusable floss threader, which makes it easy to pull floss underneath the arch wire (also depicted in second video below).  

For a review on proper flossing technique, a proper demonstration can be seen here

For a quick and useful visual demonstration on brushing and flossing with braces, check out this video.  

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