This is the first entry in our “Keeping Your Braces Clean” series and it focuses on brushing.

Keeping Clean Braces – Part 1

An important part of your treatment is regular brushing and flossing to keep plaque at bay.
This is the first entry in our “Keeping Your Braces Clean” series and it focuses on brushing. An important part of your treatment is regular brushing and flossing to keep plaque at bay. If you don’t clean your teeth and braces properly, plaque will build up. Plaque starts off clear, but becomes gooey white stuff as it grows; you can see it on your teeth. Plaque causes tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease, and it dissolves the glue that holds your braces on. Plaque looks, tastes, and smells gross.

How Often Should I Brush?

Dr. Black recommends you brush at least four times per day: after breakfast, after lunch (or as soon as you get home from school), after supper, and at bedtime with a soft nylon toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Both your toothbrush and toothpaste should be approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). You can also use an electric toothbrush for a high-tech clean. As long as your toothbrush is soft enough to not harm your gums, you’ll be set. If possible, use an electric toothbrush with an orthodontic head, preferably a Sonicare Ultrasonic Toothbrush. The high speed vibrations created by the electric toothbrush help break down plaque. Remember, if you can’t brush immediately after you eat, then at least brush as soon as you have a chance.  

Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.

How Do I Brush My Braces Best?

When you’re brushing, use a circular or vibrating motion and think about brushing one tooth at a time. Place the toothbrush at an angle so that you feel the bristles under your gum line and use small circular motions. Slowly work your way from the back tooth on one side, around the front teeth, and onto the back teeth on the other side. Then work your way back around on the inside. Do all of the upper or the lower set first, and then repeat on the other set.

When brushing, make sure to brush above, below, and between the braces. Pay particular attention to working your toothbrush between the braces and the gums. Each surface of every tooth should be scrubbed with 10 strokes of the toothbrush. This should take 2–3 minutes. Look at your teeth when finished. Your braces should be as shiny as the day you got them.

Don’t forget to brush your tongue— bacteria grow there too!

 

Brushing Teeth - Braces 1 Brushing Teeth - Braces 2
1. Use a soft toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste. Completely clean each surface of every tooth in your mouth, including the areas above, below, and between each brace. 2. Use circular, vibrating motions around the gum line. Scrub each surface of every tooth with 10 strokes of the toothbrush. This should take 2–3 minutes.
Brushing Teeth - Braces 3 Brushing Teeth - Braces 4
3. Brush every tooth slowly. Brush the upper teeth down. 4. Brush the lower teeth up. Also brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

Any Special Tools?

A toothbrush might not reach the areas under your archwire properly. An interdental toothbrush (Proxabrush) is another aid you may find useful to keep your teeth, braces, and gums clean and healthy. It can be used to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces. Use this device slowly so you do not damage your braces.

Using these daily brushing techniques will help keep your smile beautiful for many, many years. Brushing is only one part of the equation, however, as you must continue to floss and use proper oral rinses to keep your mouth health. If you’re wondering how to floss effectively with braces, or what kind of rinse we recommend, check out more in this series of “Keeping Your Braces Clean.”

Keeping Your Braces Clean: Flossing
Keeping Your Braces Clean: Removable Appliances, Water-Piks, and Rinses

If you have any questions, or if any problems come up, please call us. We are always happy to help in any way we can.