Young girl with long straight light brown hair smiling with braces while holding a tooth brush and floss.

How to Brush Teeth with Braces

Brushing and flossing isn’t exactly easy when you have braces, but it’s more important than ever. Take a few extra minutes each day to brush around your brackets and wires to get the job done right and you’ll be happy you did when it’s time to get your braces off in a year or two. 

Need some pointers? Here’s how to brush teeth with braces step-by-step.

1. Rinse First

Food gets lodged between your wires and brackets very easily when you have braces. By doing a quick rinse with a mouthful of water, you can loosen any stuck particles, making it easier to brush them away. This step is particularly helpful if you’ve just finished a meal.

2. Start with the Right Tools

This means using a soft, end-rounded bristle toothbrush and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste. You may feel like you’re doing a better job getting your teeth clean with stiff bristles, but they can damage delicate gum tissue. Electric toothbrushes are great too if you have one.

3. Brush Thoroughly

Use these illustrations from the American Association of Orthodontics as a guide. Brushing thoroughly when you have braces means:

  • Brushing above the brackets and wires
  • Brushing below the brackets and wires
  • Brushing the chewing surfaces of your teeth
  • Brushing behind your teeth

It’s recommended that people without braces brush for 2 minutes. With braces, you’ll likely need a little bit longer than that—brush for as long as it takes to get your teeth and braces clean. Once you're done, the metal on your brackets should look shiny, not dull. Brush twice a day at a minimum, but also try to brush after your meals whenever possible.

4. Fluoride Rinses

A great way to decrease cavities is to use an ADA-approved fluoride rinse. Braces are hard to clean and if plaque accumulates around the brackets often, you can damage your teeth.  In addition to cavities, you may also get pre-cavities called white spot lesions. These unsightly white marks are often permanent and very difficult to fix. 

After brushing and flossing, use a fluoride rinse to prevent cavities and white spots. Ideally, do a rinse at night just before bed, after you’ve finished eating and drinking for the day. If our team determines you are high risk, they may suggest doing more frequent rinses.

5. Floss Daily

While any time of day is better than nothing, we recommend choosing to floss at night instead of the morning to make sure you've removed any food debris that has accumulated between your braces and your teeth throughout the day. Many patients ask about water flossers to make the job easier, but traditional string floss works much better. Choose waxed floss instead of unwaxed, though, because it's less likely to shred if it gets caught on your brackets.

Use your fingers or a floss threader to thread the floss under the wire and then floss as usual, gently pushing and pulling the string back and forth, working all the way to the gum line.

6. Try an Interproximal or Interdental Brush

These are small brushes that fit under the wires to help you do a better job cleaning your teeth and braces. They’re especially helpful when it comes to removing plaque from the sides of your brackets. Provided your teeth aren’t too crowded, you may also be able to clean between them with one of these brushes instead of dental floss.

Why Good Oral Hygiene Matters with Braces

The risk of gingivitis, cavities, and even gum disease increases during orthodontic treatment because plaque accumulates so easily if patients aren’t diligent with their oral hygiene habits. Aside from oral health, not brushing well with braces can cause cosmetic issues too. Stains and white marks (decalcification) can occur around the brackets.

After you’ve invested so much time and money into your beautiful smile, you don’t want to have to need even more dental treatments once your braces are removed!

Learn More About Brushing with Braces

If you have any questions about how to brush and floss well with braces, we can provide instruction at your next appointment. Contact us at 516-226-7337 to schedule a visit at our Levittown, NY office.