Brushing and flossing your teeth with braces doesn’t need to be hard and, most importantly, it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. You’ll find that as you follow these tips every day, it will become easier and easier, and you’ll find a lot less discomfort when you floss.

We all know that you’re flossing your teeth (and brushing them) for the same reason that you’re getting braces: you want to have a winning smile. So it makes sense that if you’re already going to the trouble of doing the big thing–getting braces–then the little things like brushing and flossing your teeth should become second nature.

But what’s the best way to floss with braces?

Floss After Every Meal

Yes, we know that it seems like a pain that you have to floss after every meal–can’t it just be left this one time? But the truth is that flossing after every meal is extremely important to making sure that your braces do their job. Food can get stuck in your teeth when you don’t have braces, and it’s much more likely for food to get stuck when you do. So every time you eat, you need to floss.

Fortunately, there are special ways to get in between the teeth and into the braces. These are floss threaders or special orthodontic flosses. These flosses are different from traditional flossing.

With orthodontic floss, you thread the floss behind the braces brackets and wires, and then you grab the end and wrap it around your fingers (as you’d normally do with floss) and slide the floss between each set of teeth. This cleans between teeth to remove food that brushing your teeth can’t get to.

It may sound hard to have to go to this much trouble but trust us: once you get the hang of it after a few weeks, you’ll be a pro at flossing while wearing braces.

The Benefits of Flossing With Braces

The benefits of flossing while you have braces are much the same as the benefits of flossing without braces–only more pronounced. Dental floss cleans food debris from your teeth which can lead to cavities and to gum diseases, and all of that food debris is typically caught just in your teeth. Adding a whole new set of obstacles–all those wires–into the mix is just going to make it easier for food to get stuck and for dental problems to arise.

The good news is that if you use the right type of floss, it doesn’t take much more than a single piece of floss to clean your whole mouth in just a few minutes. Pulling the floss (typically waxed floss) with your index fingers will clear out most of the debris and lead to a boost in overall oral health.