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Brushing with Braces: Cleaning Every Nook & Cranny
Posted on March 13th, 2022
If braces are in your future, or you have just had them placed, you may be wondering just how the heck to 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 anyone would feel confident flashing.
Yes, there will be a learning curve while our favorite curve on your face is a work in progress, but Family Dentistry of Bellevue is confident in your abilities and wants to fill you in on just how important it is to be diligent in your oral hygiene routine—while going through orthodontic treatment, and afterward, too!
Bands, Brackets & Wires—Oh My!
The anatomy of your mouth is more complex than what we see with our eyes alone, while the anatomy of your braces is fairly simple (and visible, unlike the pulp, nerves, and roots of your teeth). This might lead you to believe your typical hygiene regimen won’t require much change. We hate to break it to you, but you may need to add some tools to your belt and skills to your resume. If it sounds intense, don’t worry! Most Bellevue patients—adults, kids, and pre-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 you 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. You should be brushing gently already, but you’ll find it’s especially important with braces because brushing too hard can cause damage.
Typically, Dr. Mack & Dr. Wachter advises to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush gently along the gumline in small circles. With braces, however, you’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. You’ll still want to brush in small circles and spend 25-30 seconds on each bracket. If you notice stubborn particles after you’ve finished brushing, an interdental toothbrush can help you remove them.
While the idea of flossing with so much in your way may seem tricky, once you nail the technique (we know you can do it!), you’ll see it doesn’t take much more time than flossing without braces. Waxed floss will be your best bet, as the unwaxed varieties are more likely to get caught and shred.
A length of 18 inches should work well. Thread the floss under the main wire of the braces. If for any reason this proves too difficult (maybe your fingers are too large or you’ve got some shakiness), floss threaders can simplify the process!
If you weren’t much of a flosser before braces and don’t think you’ll become a fan of the string method, 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 you’re at work or school.
Remember that while the benefits of braces are numerous, the number of foods you should avoid while wearing them are, too. Braces are a tried and true way to get your teeth in proper alignment, but they’re not strong enough to endure hard, sticky, or crunchy foods. You also want to avoid nail biting or chewing on pens and pencils. Eating softer, enamel-friendly foods will protect your braces and your smile and make your hygiene routines easier to conduct!
Visual reminders can be helpful if you’re feeling frustrated throughout your orthodontic treatment, whether it’s because of the dietary restrictions, the increased importance of your oral hygiene routine, the length of treatment, or the pain and discomfort that can come with your mouth’s structural changes. We want your post-braces smile to be 100% worth it, and being thorough is the best way to ensure you’ll be ready to proudly share your smile once you’ve crossed the finish line. We can’t wait to celebrate your new smile with you!