Brushing & Flossing with Braces
We recommend that you brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day (preferably after meals), for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all of the teeth surfaces: the outside, the inside, and the chewing surfaces. Be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, and between brackets and gums, that’s where food particles can easily become trapped.
Here’s a suggested brushing technique: Begin at the outside surfaces, place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth, and use small circular motions to gently polish the area clean. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions. Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, using a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish up by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.
Special Brushing Tools
If you’re having trouble cleaning the areas near brackets and wires, there are some special tools that can make the job easier. One is the interdental toothbrush or proxabrush. It has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around, like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.
Another special cleaning tool is the oral irrigator or “water pick.” This device shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies. While it’s easy to use, an oral irrigator isn’t a substitute for a toothbrush or dental floss. The oral irrigator is meant to be used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques and it can be very effective.
In order to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, you need to floss at least once per day. Now, how do you get floss under the archwire of your braces? You can use a floss threader to complete the task. You pull one end of floss through the threader and then push the threader under the archwire. Then, you pull the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth, and all the way under the gums until you hear a squeaky sound, this is the indicator that the area is clean. Finally, pull it out, toss it, and use a new section of floss for the next area.
There’s an accurate way to tell how effective your cleaning techniques are. There are special vegetable dyes called “disclosing solutions” or “disclosing tablets” that highlight plaque and food debris that brushing has missed. You can then easily remove the dyed spots. This exercise will highlight any areas of opportunity for your brushing and flossing techniques.
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy now is an investment in your future. Maintaining good oral health will allow you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment.