The best way to keep a beautiful smile for a lifetime is by brushing and flossing regularly. Brushing and flossing are especially essential during treatment with braces or clear aligners because bad oral hygiene could lead to tooth discoloration once the braces are off. While clear aligners come out for brushing, braces stay in, which can be a bit more challenging with braces.
Smith and Davis Orthodontics knows all the tips for braces and tricks to better brushing and flossing with braces, and we’re happy to share some of those tips with you. The better you brush and floss, the more amazing your teeth will look once those braces come off!
Brushing Better With Braces
There isn’t much to brushing your teeth, right? Grab a toothbrush, slap on some toothpaste, give your teeth a quick scrub, and you’re done. Actually, you can improve your oral hygiene by choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste and by brushing properly for the right amount of time per day. Keep these tips in mind when choosing your proper brushing tools.
Picking the Right Toothbrush for Braces
You may think a toothbrush is just a toothbrush, but that’s not the case. The right toothbrush will give you better oral hygiene while protecting your teeth, gums, and braces. The first thing you want to look for is a soft-bristled toothbrush. The softer bristles protect your gums from irritation and aren’t hard enough to wear down your enamel.
While a manual toothbrush is OK, an electric toothbrush tends to work better, especially around braces. Most electric toothbrushes have extra movement, such as a circulating head or vibration motion that dislodges food particles from your braces and reaches places your manual toothbrush may not. Most electric toothbrushes are only a few dollars more than manual ones. Another benefit is that rather than having to replace the toothbrush every few months when it wears out, you can replace just the toothbrush head on the electric toothbrush. Regular replacement keeps the bristles strong for maximum cleaning.
Picking the Right Toothpaste for Braces
There are so many options for toothpaste out there it’s hard to decide which is best for you. First and foremost, you want to use fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride works with your saliva to strengthen the enamel — the hard outer shell protecting your teeth. Fluoride toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay. Treating your teeth for cavities and tooth decay can delay your braces treatment time, so it’s important to use fluoride toothpaste.
Do NOT use whitening toothpaste. The toothpaste won’t get behind the bonding agent that holds the brackets on your teeth. That means if you spend your treatment time whitening the rest of your teeth, you’ll have dark squares once the braces come off. So make sure you don’t use whitening toothpaste during treatment.
Otherwise, the options are up to you. Whether you want less sensitivity or more minty breath, you can pick the toothpaste you prefer.
How Often Should I Brush With Braces?
With or without braces, you want to brush your teeth at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each time, making sure to scrub every surface of each tooth. Braces can trap more food particles against your teeth, so ideally, you want to brush after every meal and snack.
If you can’t brush after every meal, try rinsing your mouth with water to remove food particles before they become more embedded in your braces. Then brush your teeth as soon as you can.
Flossing Better With Braces
Flossing your teeth with braces is just as important as brushing, but it can also be more challenging. There are tools available to make flossing with braces easier. One thing to remember: Floss BEFORE you brush, not after. Flossing first moves the particles from between your teeth onto the tooth surface, where they can then be brushed away. Otherwise, you brush first and get your teeth clean, then put plaque and bacteria right back on the clean surface with flossing!
Picking the Right Floss With Braces
What’s the best floss to use? Technically, you can use any dental floss, but waxed floss is a bit better, especially with braces. The wax allows the floss to move smoother and easier between your teeth. It also holds the floss together and keeps it from fraying as you floss.
Just make sure you use dental floss. Don’t try using string or thread because it’s not made to go into your mouth. Dental floss is flattened, so it glides between the teeth better. It’s also soft, so it doesn’t irritate your gums. Anything other than that can cause your gums to bleed from irritation.
Using a Water Flosser With Braces
Many people ask us about using water flossers such as a Waterpik. While these are great to get around braces, they don’t have the scrubbing power of dental floss, so they may leave some bacteria and plaque residue behind. A water flosser is an excellent supplement to dental floss, but it’s not a substitute. For our clients that find flossing extra difficult, new developments to the Waterpik have improved its use for a floss substitute for these situations. New attachments to the Waterpik allow for better reach to clean braces and fixed retainers!
Using Flossing Tools With Braces
It can be quite the challenge to get dental floss around braces brackets, and wires. Floss threaders can be used to solve those problems. A floss threader looks like a big needle with a giant eye, but it’s made of thin plastic. You thread the dental floss through the eye, then slide the floss threader under or over your archwire. This allows you to floss normally. It’s a great tool and relatively inexpensive. Floss threaders come in a pack and can be found at major retailers and pharmacies.
Using Mouthwash With Braces
For a little added protection, a good mouthwash can wash away bacteria and food particles while leaving your breath minty fresh. You can find mouthwashes with extra fluoride protection, which is great with or without braces. Ideally, you want to use mouthwash about half an hour after brushing, which gives the fluoride in your toothpaste time to work. You also want to make sure you don’t eat or drink anything for half an hour after using the mouthwash. That gives the fluoride in the mouthwash time to work, just as it does with toothpaste.
Orthodontist Rogers AR
Proper brushing and flossing are essential during braces treatment, just as they are without braces. The difference is that without proper brushing and flossing, demineralization of the enamel can occur around the brackets, leaving white patches on the teeth that become visible once the brackets are removed. That’s why we strongly encourage our patients to brush and floss often throughout their treatment.
Are you ready for braces treatment? Start with a free, no-obligation consultation in the Rogers, AR, area. We’ll evaluate your dental issues and let you know the best treatment for you. You’ll be amazed at how a new smile can transform your life!