girl brushing teeth

Proper oral care should be an important part of everyone’s daily routine, and not just because it keeps your teeth looking clean. It’s also a key component in avoiding some common dental problems like gingivitis, tartar, and demineralization. Because thorough oral hygiene is more difficult if you’re in braces, you may be more prone to these issues than those who don’t wear braces.

These kinds of dental problems are enough to deal with on their own, let alone the more serious oral health issues that can occur if they’re left untreated. These problems can also prolong the time you need to spend in braces, and nobody wants that.

Our team here at Craig & Streight knows that caring for your teeth can be challenging when you have braces, so we’ve put together this guide to achieving great oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment. Let’s start with the best brushing techniques!

Better brushing, better smile

Cleaning your teeth properly is the most important aspect of oral health, especially while wearing braces. Brush your teeth thoroughly two to three times a day with fluoride toothpaste, making sure to pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums. Do this after every meal to clear any food debris that may have become trapped in or around your braces, carefully cleaning the areas between the wires and your teeth and also between the brackets and gums.

Keep brushing your teeth for at least two minutes each time, placing the tips of the bristles so they’re flat against your teeth, and gently clean them using small circular motions. Then move on to the areas between the gums and the braces, tilting the brush towards the gum line while continuing the circular motions. Next up are the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth, gliding the bristles in a firm back-and-forth motion to clean those areas. Lastly, thoroughly brush the inside surfaces of the teeth using those same small circular motions.

You should always feel free to ask your orthodontist for instructions on how to better clean the surface of the teeth around your braces, but in the meantime, here are some tips on how to practice better brushing techniques at home.

  • Use a soft orthodontic toothbrush. There are some toothbrushes available for orthodontic use that have longer bristles on the edges and shorter ones in the middle, to really help you clean in between your braces and your teeth.
  • You can also use an electric toothbrush with a soft bristled head, but if it has adjustable speed, use a more moderate setting so you don’t accidentally break or loosen any part of your braces.
  • Another option is an interdental brush, which fits in between the wires and the teeth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris.
  • A mouthwash containing fluoride can be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth and prevent tooth decay during orthodontic treatment.
  • Regular dental visits are important to monitor the health of your teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment. Aim for twice-a-year checkups and cleanings.

If you don’t take proper care of your braces during orthodontic treatment, the risk of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease is significantly increased. Along with brushing, flossing is an integral part of keeping your teeth healthy. You may think it’s impossible to floss wearing braces, but fortunately, there are several ways to accomplish this effectively!

Fantastic flossing

Flossing should be done at least once per day, and preferably each time you brush. It’s an essential part of achieving (and maintaining!) healthy teeth and gums. Flossing regularly is even more important for someone wearing braces because it’s really easy for food particles to get stuck in the tiny crevices around the brackets and even in your gums.

A floss threader is a tool designed to help make flossing with braces easier. A little like a threading needle, you simply pull one end of the floss through the threader, feed the threader under the archwire, then grab the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums. Hear a squeaking sound? Pull the threader out and move on to the next section of teeth.

Oral irrigators like a Waterpik can also be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing. These instruments are able to shoot small, high-pressure streams of water onto the teeth, removing food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces.

A note on diet

Diet is an important – but often neglected – aspect of oral health. When wearing braces, there are certain foods you should avoid. These can damage the braces and your teeth. When wearing braces, try and steer clear of the following items.

Anything hard, like

  • candy
  • popcorn
  • ice
  • pizza crusts
  • raw apples and carrots
  • peanut brittle

These types of foods can risk loosening bands and bending wires, as well as actually breaking your braces.

Anything sticky or chewy, such as

  • caramel
  • gummy bears
  • certain protein bars
  • cotton candy
  • certain kinds of candy
  • tough cuts of meat

The problem with these is, again, that they can cause damage to your braces. There’s also the potential of food getting stuck underneath the braces.

Acidic items, like

  • sodas
  • oranges
  • apples
  • lemons
  • lemon juice

These can stain your teeth, as well as damaging the enamel.

Sugary foods and drinks, such as

  • sweets
  • sodas
  • fruit smoothies
  • very processed foods

Since it’s difficult to clean the teeth under the braces, items with a large amount of sugar can cause the production of even more plaque, since it essentially acts as “food” for the bacteria in your mouth.

Keeping a clean & healthy mouth with Craig & Streight

Mom Daughter brushing teeth

Taking good care of your braces by brushing and flossing regularly and effectively is essential for avoiding complications and ending up with the great-looking smile you’re looking for. Craig & Streight can help you achieve that! Our skilled staff strives to provide personalized service to each and every patient, and with three convenient locations in Norman, Mustang, and South OKC, we’re sure to have an office near you. If you’re in the Oklahoma City or surrounding area and need hands-on care or advice with your dental hygiene routine during orthodontic treatment, give us a call today and schedule a consultation. We’re here to keep you smiling!