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Brushing with Braces: Cleaning Every Nook & Cranny
Posted on January 13th, 2023
If braces are in your child or teen’s future, or they have just had them placed, you may be wondering just how the heck they’re going work around them when flossing and brushing. We’d love to calm your mind by reminding you those wires and brackets are temporary visitors, hanging out to help correct the bite and achieve a smile they can feel confident flashing.
Yes, there will be a learning curve while our favorite curve on their face is a work in progress, but Family Dentistry of Bellevue is confident in their abilities and wants to fill you in on just how important it is to be diligent in their oral hygiene routine—while going through orthodontic treatment, and afterward, too!
Bands, Brackets & Wires—Oh My!
The anatomy of the mouth is more complex than what we see with our eyes alone, while the anatomy of their braces is fairly simple (and visible, unlike the pulp, nerves, and roots of their teeth). This might lead you to believe their typical hygiene regimen won’t require much change. We hate to break it to you, but they may need to add some tools to their belt and skills to their resume. If it sounds intense, don’t worry! Most Bellevue patients—kids, pre-teens, and teens alike become pros in no time.
Your Trusty Techniques & Tools
The basics will remain largely the same—a soft-bristled toothbrush and handy-dandy dental floss. A manual toothbrush will work, but they might prefer the ease of an electric or sonic toothbrush, which can maneuver itself around the hardware and withstand the wear a bit longer than their manual counterparts. They should be brushing gently already, but they’ll find it’s especially important with braces because brushing too hard can cause damage.
Typically, Family Dentistry of Bellevue advises to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush gently along the gumline in small circles. With braces, however, they’ll want to angle the bristles both upwards and downwards to be sure no food debris or plaque is left behind on the wire or brackets. They’ll still want to brush in small circles and spend 25-30 seconds on each bracket. If they notice stubborn particles after they’ve finished brushing, an interdental toothbrush can help remove them.
While the idea of flossing with so much in the way may seem tricky, once they nail the technique (we know they can do it!), they’ll see it doesn’t take much more time than flossing without braces. Waxed floss will be their best bet, as the unwaxed varieties are more likely to get caught and shred.
A length of 18 inches should work well, and they should thread the floss under the main wire of the braces. If, for any reason, this proves too difficult (maybe their fingers are too large or they’ve got some shakiness), floss threaders can simplify the process!
If your child or teen wasn’t much of a flosser before braces and don’t think they’ll become a fan of the string method any time soon, water flossers (like the WaterPik®) are a great option, too. These have been proven to work just as well, but aren’t particularly convenient if they’re at school.
Remember that while the benefits of braces are numerous, the number of foods they should avoid while wearing them are, too. Braces are a tried and true way to get teeth in proper alignment, but they’re not strong enough to endure hard, sticky, or crunchy foods. They will also want to avoid nail biting or chewing on pens and pencils. Eating softer, enamel-friendly foods will protect their braces and their smile and make their hygiene routines easier to conduct!
Visual reminders can be helpful if they’re feeling frustrated throughout their orthodontic treatment, whether it’s because of the dietary restrictions, the increased importance of their oral hygiene routine, the length of treatment, or the pain and discomfort that can come with the mouth’s structural changes. We want their post-braces smile to be 100% worth it, and being thorough is the best way to ensure they’ll be ready to proudly share their smile once they’ve crossed the finish line. We can’t wait to celebrate their new smile with you!
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.