Getting braces is a rite of passage for most children and teens (and even adults) in America, but there are a lot of questions that come with getting braces on: How do you brush your teeth with braces on? Better yet, how do you floss? Do braces hurt when they’re on? There may seem to be many unknowns when diving into the world of braces, but don’t fret: all these questions have answers and we are here to help you navigate them!

In this article, we’re going to explain why you need to brush and floss with your braces, the importance of good oral hygiene, and simple steps you can take to ensure your oral health is as good as it possibly can be.

The point of braces is to have a healthy mouth—don’t mess it up by getting cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease! Upkeeping proper oral hygiene is of the utmost importance, especially when wearing braces.

Brushing your teeth with braces

Firstly, everyone should brush their teeth at least three times a day, but when you have braces, keeping good oral hygiene is even more vital to have healthy teeth and prevent bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Patients with braces are encouraged to brush 3 times a day, after every meal.

Sometimes that is hard to do, especially at school or work so even just rinsing after lunch is a good stopgap until getting back to your toothbrush. Using mouthwash is encouraged especially while in braces too! Using an American Dental Association approved fluoride mouth rinse in the morning and at night before bed will help your teeth and gums thrive.

Arguably the most important thing to do to maintain good oral health and keep your braces nice and clean is brushing with an electric toothbrush.; Oral B is a great example of a reputable brand with models for kids and adults alike!

Getting kids used to an electric toothbrush when they’re young will help instill good oral hygiene habits early on. Using a fluoride toothpaste is a great way to keep up with good oral health.

How to Floss with Braces

Flossing is also crucial for keeping debris and cavity causing plaque out of hard to reach places between teeth. The idea of flossing with braces may seem daunting, but using a Water Pik, floss threader, Platypus Flosser, or Superfloss can make it very easy to get in between the teeth and around wires of the braces.

If you don’t have a Water Pik to use, flossing with braces is perfectly fine! A floss threader is a tool used to help get floss in between hard to reach places, such as between teeth with braces on them. You can use the floss with your own fingers as well and just pull the floss under the wires between the teeth and floss away! If you are out and about and find yourself without floss, rinsing your mouth with water is helpful enough until you can get home and clean those spots properly.

One of the most pressing concerns that comes with having braces is what to do if/when a brace breaks. A bracket may come loose, or the wire could pop out of the bracket if something excessively hard or crunch is eaten – for example (see our blog post Eating with Braces: Foods to Avoid and Foods to Eat for a more in-depth list).

Braces don’t break just from brushing your teeth, but always call the orthodontist should a break happen or you start feeling pain from a poking wire. When a wire is poking, the orthodontist will routinely trim or bend the end for comfort. Sometimes early on in treatment when more flexible wires are used, the end of the wire gets curled in behind the last tooth to prevent it from poking the inside of the mouth.

Broken brackets take a bit more time than just a poking wire. When a bracket is broken or feels loose on the wire, definitely always call the orthodontists to see what to do. Repairing brackets is a longer process because you have to open all of the brackets on the arch (the top or bottom of the mouth), and remove the entire wire. Then you remove the broken bracket, clean and polish the tooth, and glue a new bracket back on. The wire then goes back into place and the doors of the brackets are all closed up!

Getting braces doesn’t have to be as intimidating as some make it out to be. It is a big responsibility to keep braces nice and clean, but luckily now there are a lot of different ways to help patients keep their teeth, mouths and braces in tip top shape!