How to floss with braces to help keep your teeth clean

So you've taken a big step toward straight teeth by having your braces applied.

You've taken some major steps toward having your best smile: you've met with well-reviewed orthodontists, chosen one who's right for you, and begun your treatment plan by having braces bonded to your teeth. You deserve a pat on the back—you're well on your way to better oral health, more confidence, and an improved appearance. At this stage of the game, your job is to keep your brackets and wires intact and your mouth healthy, whether you're wearing traditional or the new hidden braces. You've probably been given a list of foods to avoid and instructions on how to brush your teeth—but do you still have to floss when you're wearing braces? Isn't that impossible? No way! Get acquainted with oral health care for patients who wear braces. Find out how to keep everything in your mouth squeaky clean.


Do

Cartoon with check mark

  • ask your orthodontist about caring for your teeth
  • consistently take care of your teeth
  • ask your orthodontist about the use of a water-flossing device
  • ask your child's orthodontist about using a water-flossing device
  • check online for sales on cleaning devices
Don't

Cartoon with x mark

  • feel silly
  • skip regular dental appointments during treatment
  • skip your oral care routine before bed, even if you're tired
  • think that it's okay to cheat
  • despair

Dr. Adam Schulhof, DMD‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do ask your orthodontist about caring for your teeth

Ask your orthodontist to explain to you exactly how to care for your teeth during treatment. He or she can show you the right way to brush and recommend tools or products to maximize your oral hygiene routine.

Do consistently take care of your teeth

Put together a twice-daily oral care routine and stick to it. You'd hate to invest time and money in orthodontic treatment only to discover decaying teeth. Write it down on sticky notes and post them on the mirror in your bathroom if you have to.

Do ask your orthodontist about the use of a water-flossing device

Water-flossing devices, also known as water picks, are about 97% as effective as flossing, and that's if you're flossing as well as a professional hygienist, which most people aren't! It's likely you'll remove much more buildup by using one of these tools. Look at your local department stores as well – they normally have these regularly stocked.

Do ask your child's orthodontist about using a water-flossing device

Kids think water picks are much more fun than regular dental floss, and we can't say we blame them. Why thread some dull wax to remove trapped food pieces when you could use a Super Soaker for your teeth?

Do check online for sales on cleaning devices

You can get some great deals if you're willing to shop around! Look online at both big and small retail companies for different types of cleaning devices. Also, a lot of brick and mortar stores are starting to price match, so keep a look out for deals online and price match them at your local store.


Dr. Adam Schulhof, DMD‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not feel silly

If you have questions about how to clean your teeth and braces, don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist for help. They helps patients with this issue all the time, so there is no reason you should feel bad about asking how to best upkeep your teeth.

Do not skip regular dental appointments during treatment

Even the most diligent patients need regular professional cleanings, too. Don’t skip any of your follow up and regular dental appointments with your orthodontist or dentist.

Do not skip your oral care routine before bed, even if you're tired

If you're desperate to hop into the sack in ten minutes or less, skip your extensive face-washing routine and use a pre-moistened facial cleaning towel instead. But you should never skip your oral care routine before bed. This is one of the most crucial times for your teeth to be clean.

Do not think that it's okay to cheat

It is not OK to cheat on the “foods to avoid” list just because you're brushing and flossing the way you should. Sticky treats like caramel and hard foods like nuts can damage your brackets and wires.

Do not despair

Braces are, of course, not permanent. One day, when you've finished your treatment, your orthodontist will remove your traditional or hidden braces to reveal a well-aligned smile. The really good news is that it'll be easier than ever to keep your teeth clean when they're straight and evenly spaced.


Summary

You did something great for yourself when you decided to work with a professional to improve your oral health and the appearance of your smile. Now your job is to keep your teeth and braces in beautiful shape. Make sure you have a twice-daily date with your bathroom sink, and don't forget to go to all those check-ups.

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