Getting braces means making a few changes to your oral health routine. For instance, you’ll need to learn how to brush your teeth with braces on.

The last thing you want to do is damage your braces or miss any part of your teeth. Once you learn the right techniques, it’s easy to adjust to brushing and flossing while your braces are on.

Remember, brushing is still important while your teeth are being straightened. Braces give food particles and bacteria even more places to hide, so always make brushing a priority.

Choose The Right Toothbrush

Choosing the right toothbrush is the first step to mastering how to brush your teeth with braces on. You have more freedom when it comes to toothbrushes when you’re not wearing braces. However, many toothbrushes can damage your braces, causing you to have to come back in to have them repaired or adjusted. No one wants that.

Instead, only use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Harder bristles are capable of bending and even breaking the wires in your mouth, especially if you brush aggressively.

Softer bristles are gentle on your braces and gums, which may already be slightly irritated as you adjust to wearing braces. You can use a manual or electric toothbrush. Just make sure the bristles don’t cause any issues.

If you choose an electric toothbrush, opt for a vibrating one versus a rotating one. These are gentler on braces and more effective at removing plaque and bacteria from around the braces.

Clean With Water First

This might sound odd, but think about how toothpaste foams. You can’t really see what you’re doing. This makes it harder to make sure you get around every wire and bracket. Do a soft brush over every area with just a wet toothbrush first. This also helps you adjust to brushing your teeth slower.

Add Toothpaste

Obviously, you don’t want to skip using toothpaste. There are just far too many benefits. Plus, water alone won’t help break up plaque. You can use any toothpaste you want. As long as you have the right toothbrush, you’re ready to brush. It’s a good idea to pick a toothpaste that’s designed for optimal plaque removal as plaque buildup can occur around your braces and not just between teeth and at the gumline.

Brushing Technique

This is the biggest change for most people. You’ve spent years learning the right brushing technique for your mouth. Suddenly, everything changes when you brush your teeth with braces.

The single most important piece of advice is to always brush gently. Even if you notice something stuck in your braces or between your teeth, never scrub. The harder you brush, the more likely you are to damage your braces. Even if you’re using a soft-bristled brush, too much pressure can still bend your wires.

A gentle scrub twice a day is much more effective. Of course, you can still fight off any excess debris with a few more steps.

Now that you’ve got gentle brushing down, you have to change how you brush each tooth. Simply brushing back and forth isn’t quite enough. You have to make sure to brush around the brackets and wires to ensure every nook and cranny is as clean as possible. You should brush around your gumline and above and below the brackets themselves.

While it’s recommended to brush for two minutes or more, this process may take longer as you adjust to this new technique. Just remember to always brush for at least two minutes.

Brush More Frequently

Ideally, you should always try to brush your teeth after meals, even if you don’t wear braces. However, most people still stick with just a morning and night routine.

With braces, there are more places than ever for food to get stuck in. Consider carrying a travel toothbrush and some toothpaste with you to brush after meals when you go out. If you’re at home, take a few minutes to brush your teeth. Even if you only do this after one meal a day, it helps keep your teeth much cleaner and healthier.

If you can’t brush, drink water immediately after your meal and swish it around your mouth to remove as much food debris as possible. This also helps remove food and drink that may stain your teeth, especially under your brackets.

Removing Extra Food Particles

Flossing should already be a part of your daily oral hygiene routine. As you might have noticed, it’s more difficult to floss with braces on. However, flossing is the perfect way to remove plaque and food particles that your toothbrush can’t quite reach. It also prevents you from having to scrub your teeth.

You can use the standard flossing technique, but it will take longer to thread the floss around your braces. It’s a good idea to use a mirror to make sure you don’t damage your braces.

A floss threader is much more efficient. You can still use your favorite floss. A floss threader gives you far more control and takes less time, once you get used to it. You should ask your orthodontist to show you exactly how to use one.

Oral irrigators or Waterpiks are also highly effective. These typically come with a special tip to help you floss around your braces easier. You don’t actually use floss. A stream of water breaks up particles and plaque to gently remove them from your teeth.

You can also use orthodontic flossers, which are pre-threaded. For stubborn areas, use interdental cleaners, which are sticks with a small brush on the end to gently brush between teeth and around your braces.

Rinse When Done

The last thing you need to do when you brush your teeth with braces on is to rinse. You can still use mouthwash when you have braces on. This can help remove even more bacteria from your mouth.

It’s also recommended to simply spit out your toothpaste at night, but don’t rinse. This allows the toothpaste to continue breaking up plaque and killing bacteria. If you don’t like the feel, just use your mouthwash instead.

The most important tip is to stick to your schedule and brush, floss and rinse daily.

Have questions about caring for your teeth with braces on? Contact our offices today with questions or to schedule an appointment to discuss care.