Braces Care: How to Brush Teeth and Floss with Braces and Foods to Avoid

Categories: Braces
Woman smiling cleaning teeth with braces

Everyone’s teeth and jaws are unique. Therefore, it’s only natural that your braces treatment plan and appliances are tailored for you. 

There are 2 types of appliances: fixed and removable. The former (e.g brackets/wires) are fixed on your teeth at all times, while the latter (e.g. elastics) are to be worn when required.

The length of treatment is dependent on your orthodontic problem, compliance to treatment and whether you need other treatment as well.

Here’s a quick guide to caring for your braces and maintaining good oral health!

One of the challenges of having braces is the discomfort that comes along with it. You may experience irritation in two areas.

 

Pain in teeth

It is common to feel pain and pressure in your teeth after the initial placement of your braces and after each tightening. To relieve the pain, you are advised to adopt a soft food diet.

 

Irritation of lips

Before braces, your lips and mouth were rubbing against smooth teeth. But with the placement of the braces, you may start to feel tenderness and experience some irritation to your lips, cheeks and tongue.  

To alleviate the sensitivity, your dentist may recommend you to use orthodontic wax to help your lips adapt to the braces better.

The next challenge comes in when consuming food. 

Braces have small ledges, nooks and crannies that can cause food to deposit. If not cleaned promptly and thoroughly, this can lead to cavities and gum problems. This makes brushing and flossing with the right technique even more important!

In this video, Dr. Wong demonstrates how to brush and floss your teeth the right way when you have braces.

To fight cavities, ensure that you use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth after each meal and before going to bed. We may also prescribe a fluoride mouth rinse to help prevent cavities.

Before you begin brushing your teeth, remove any elastics (if applicable). You may also want to use an electric toothbrush as it promotes better oral hygiene for patients with braces.

  • Step 1: Remove any food particles

    Use an interdental brush to remove any food particles stuck in between your braces wires.

  • Step 2: Brush in the correct angle using the correct action

    When brushing, always clean into your gum margin and through your braces with the toothbrush tilted at a 45 degree angle.

    The right way to brush is to vibrate the toothbrush gently while the bristles remain in approximately the same position.

  • Step 3: Clean your braces first

    Using the correct angle and brushing action, clean in and around all the wires and/or pins (if present) on your braces.

    Make sure that you brush behind both sides of the wires to remove all food particles and plaque.

  • Step 4: Brush the rest of your outer surfaces

    Using the same angle and brushing action, brush the gum margins on all outer surfaces of your upper and lower teeth.

  • Step 5: Brush the inner surfaces

    Also using the same angle and action, clean behind each tooth for your upper and lower teeth.

  • Step 6: Brush the chewing surfaces

    Next, clean the chewing surfaces of your teeth using a back and forth motion. Do this for both the top and bottom teeth.

The last step is to brush your tongue to remove unwanted mouth bacteria and prevent bad breath.

Thereafter, rinse your mouth thoroughly and check your teeth in the mirror. It should be clean and shiny!

If you’re not sure whether they’re really clean, you can choose to chew a plaque disclosing tablet (optional). Any remaining plaque will appear coloured and you can remove it easily with a bit more brushing.

Aside from brushing your teeth, it’s also important to floss as it effectively removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line (areas where a toothbrush can’t reach). 

  • Step 1: Prepare the floss

    Cut about 30cm of floss or use pre-cut Superfloss. Using a floss threader, pass one end of the floss through the braces wire. Then, remove the floss threader.

    Tip!
    Use waxed floss as unwaxed ones are likely to get caught and shredded in your braces.

  • Step 2: Floss using a sliding motion

    Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers with about 5cm of floss between them.

    Use a gentle sawing motion to guide the floss between your teeth and gum.

  • Step 3: Repeat until all teeth are cleaned

    Repeat the process for the rest of your teeth.

While you’re wearing braces, you can eat almost all your favourite foods. However, these are the 4 types of foods that you should avoid.

Avoid sticky food

Sticky foods such as toffee, caramel and mints can potentially bend or break your wires. Instead, you’re advised to go for soup, yogurt or smooth peanut butter instead.

Cut hard foods

Hard foods such as apples and carrots should be cut into bite-sized pieces to prevent breaking your appliances.

Avoid crunchy foods

Crunchy foods like corn, nuts or crabs should be avoided. It’s best to take softer foods and consume them in small pieces. Also, avoid chewing on meat bones as this may break your wires.

Eating sweets

Eating sweets increases the risk of developing cavities. If you do eat them, be sure to brush your teeth immediately. Ice cream should also be consumed in moderation as they can cause the cement under the bands to break.

Maintaining oral health with braces

With these best practices and tips, you should be able to maintain optimum oral health during your braces journey! 

For more information, read our guide on braces emergency treatments to learn how to cope with tricky situations.

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