According to Humana, over 4 million people in the U.S. are currently wearing braces to achieve a beautiful smile. While braces first and foremost aligns and straightens teeth, which can improve your child’s appearance, it also improves oral health by reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
However, if you don’t properly take care of braces and teeth during alignment, there can be problems down the road. Braces act as a trap for food particles and bacteria which means extra special care needs to be taken to remove food from teeth, brackets and between wires.
You should be prepared to spend three times as long on oral care while you or your children have braces. But don’t worry—it’s worth the time! Good oral hygiene during alignment helps ward off gum disease. Plus, it can help your child’s teeth look that much better when it’s finally time to get braces removed.
How to Clean Your Teeth With Braces
When it comes to teaching your children how to clean teeth with braces, many of the regular oral hygiene rules apply. Still, there are some important factors to take into consideration. For example, how on earth do you clean teeth with metal glued to them? Or how do you floss with braces on? What kinds of toothbrushes work best for braces?
Let’s start with the basic rules of brushing with braces, including tools and techniques, flossing and mouthwash.
Basic Brushing Tools
The recommended tools for brushing your teeth with braces are similar to those your child uses without braces; just with a few variations.
- Use a soft-bristle brush ideally especially designed for braces.
- Try an electric toothbrush on a moderate power level.
- Use fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
- Consider purchasing a proxabrush (AKA Christmas tree brush) to clean between braces.
- Replace the toothbrush’s frayed bristles every 3-4 months.
Techniques on How To Clean Teeth with Braces
When brushing with braces, it’s important to brush at least two minutes at a time—even up to five minutes. With the propensity for food to get caught in braces and wires, longer brushing time helps remove all the debris.
- Brush for at least two minutes, twice a day.
- Clean the areas between the wires and teeth, and between the brackets and gums.
- Place the tips of the toothbrush bristles flat against teeth and use small circular motions.
- Tilt the brush toward the gum line when brushing between braces and gums. Do so in a circular motion.
Tips on Flossing with Braces
It’s tricky to try to floss with a mouth full of brackets and wires in the way! Each time your child brushes their teeth, take time to floss as well. Because debris can easily get stuck in teeth with braces and plaque can build up, flossing is can help remove lingering debris.
The Super Dentists has some tricks of the trade to make flossing easier and more effective.
- To floss with braces, take 18 inches of floss and wrap it around your middle fingers. Hold the rest between your thumbs and forefingers. Gently feed the floss between the top of teeth near the gum and the main arch wire of the bracket. Use a gentle sawing motion on the side of each tooth.
- Make your child’s flossing job easier by using a floss threader. It’s like threading a needle, but easier. Pull one end of the floss through the threader and push the threader under the archwire. Or even better yet, use a floss especially designed for braces that the threader has been already built as part of the floss. These flosses are more comfortable and less likely to damage gums than floss threaders.
- Use a water flosser: it cleanses with a stream of water and is a quick, easy way to floss.
When the orthodontist removes those pesky braces from your child’s mouth, you want their teeth to look clean and cavity-free. The final step of cleaning teeth with braces is swishing with mouthwash at night. Look for an anti-cavity, fluoride mouthwash that will reduce tooth decay and protect enamel. This step is important even for people who typically don’t use a mouthwash because having braces increases risk of cavities for everyone. Each night, rinse with mouthwash for one minute to get rid of any remaining food.
Visit The Super Dentists
The Super Dentists has trained oral hygiene experts available in locations around San Diego County to answer all of your dental hygiene questions. To make an appointment for a dental checkup, please contact The Super Dentists today.
To learn more about oral hygiene, The Super Dentists’ very own Dr. Kami Hoss, has authored a book titled, If Your Mouth Could Talk.