How should I brush my teeth if I have braces?

Essentially the same principles of good brushing still apply; however, it may be a challenge to accomplish without extra effort and attention to being very careful and thorough. It is important to remove debris from around the brackets and wires, and to carefully remove the plague from all the surfaces of the teeth. Cleaning between the teeth can be especially difficult and may require alternative methods.

This should all be discussed with your dentist, orthodontist and hygienist.
Many people get braces without understanding the importance of doing a thorough job of cleaning their teeth on a daily basis. Because of the extra "hardware" on your teeth, it takes a little more effort to ensure that your teeth are brushed well to remove as much plaque (food debris and bacterial buildup) as possible. I recommend brushing with a soft toothbrush and angling above the braces, and then below the braces on both upper and lower teeth. You may also need a special toothbrush called a "proxy brush" to help you brush around individual orthodontic brackets. These can purchased at any drug store, or your dentist can provide you with one. Also, don't forget to floss once a day!

What you don't want to end up with is nice, straight teeth that are dotted with cavities/decalcified areas once your braces are removed. If you spend a little extra time each day, your gums will remain healthy and your smile will look great once your braces are removed.
Aaron B. Schwartz, DDS
Pediatric Dentistry
Brush in CIRCLES, alternating the tooth brush bristles pointing up and down at a 45 degree angle. For any person in braces, children or adults, one should be brushing at least 3 times a day after every meal.

Also, electronic toothbrushes do a better job cleaning food/plaque off of braces. I typically see this in my pediatric dental office. Just don't brush too hard!!!
Carol Jahn
Brushing is definitely a challenge with braces, and most of the time, it is not enough to rid of the plaque and food debris that can get trapped in the wires brackets. A power toothbrush is an excellent option along with a Water Flosser. Look for the brand that comes with a tip specifically for orthodontics -- called the Orthodontic Tip. When used with a manual toothbrush, teens who used a Water Flosser with the Orthodontic Tip removed 3 times more plaque than those who used a manual brush and traditional string floss and 5 times as much plaque as those who only brushed. It was also beneficial if reducing gum inflammation.
Brushing your teeth is still a very important activity, especially if you have braces. Food can get trapped near braces and cause problems such as cavities and gingivitis. You should brush your teeth very carefully and slowly, and use a soft-bristle toothbrush. This is because the bristles on soft brushes bend more than medium or hard bristles, so it is easier to get into the small spaces to clean out food particles.

Brushing three times a day, especially some time after meals, can make a difference. If you cannot brush, at least rinse out your mouth with water.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.