Oral Care: The right way to clean your braces
Good cleaning habits are crucial for orthodontic patients because sloppy oral care can cause unattractive stains and actually lengthen the amount of time that they have to spend in braces. Research indicates that every poor oral hygiene entry into a patient’s chart increases treatment time by an average of 2.5 weeks. Three or more poor oral hygiene entries into a chart can increase treatment time by as much as 9.5 weeks. This can cost extra money and add up to a lot of additional unwanted time in braces. Read on to learn all the best brushing and flossing techniques.
It's very important to brush your teeth after every meal, or at least twice a day, and to brush for at least 2 minutes every time.

Brushing with a regular manual toothbrush can leave a great deal of plaque behind, so using a power toothbrush is highly recommended.

The right way to brush your teeth with braces:

  1. Hold the brush parallel to the floor against the side of your teeth. Guide the power brush head from tooth to tooth, following the natural curve of your teeth and gums.
  2. Hold the brush in place on each tooth for a few seconds before moving on to the next tooth. With an electric brush, you don't have to press hard or scrub. Just let the brush do all the work for you.
  3. Don't forget to brush the insides of teeth, the tops of teeth, and the back of your mouth behind your back molars.
  4. Clean brackets by angling the brush head against them. Make sure the brush also cleans under the wires.
Remember to replace your toothbrush or brush head every 3 months so it continues to clean efficiently.

Click here for information about Oral-B toothbrushes.

You don’t need any sort of specialized toothpaste for braces. How often and how well you brush is the most important thing to focus on.

However, cleaning teeth thoroughly is more difficult with braces, so choosing a toothpaste with comprehensive protection helps patients maintain the best oral health.

For information about correct brushing techniques, see the Toothbrushes & Brushing Technique section.

Click here for information about Crest toothpastes recommended for braces wearers.


To help clean between tiny spaces in your braces and wash away any leftover food particles, use mouthwash twice a day. It only takes about a minute to rinse around your brackets.

Click here for information about Crest mouthwashes.

It’s important to floss every night after brushing, even though it seems like a pain. This is because braces are notorious for trapping food, even if you think you’ve brushed it all away.

Because of the difficulty of flossing around wires, ordinary floss alone won’t work with braces. You need to use a special “threader floss” with a stiff end that allows you to thread the floss between your brackets. You can also use regular floss combined with a separate plastic floss threader.

To floss around braces:

  1. Insert the floss under the wire, over the space between two teeth. Push the floss halfway through, then grasp both ends of the floss with your fingers.
  2. Gently work the floss back and forth between each tooth a few times.
  3. When you reach the gum line, curve the floss into a “C” shape.
  4. Make sure to floss below the gum line using a gentle up-and-down motion.
  5. Carefully pull the floss out, thread it under the next wire, and repeat.
Your gums may bleed for the first week, but this is normal. They will toughen up with regular flossing. The entire flossing process may take 15 or 20 minutes at first, but you can do it while listening to music or watching TV, and you’ll get faster with practice.

Click here for information about Oral-B floss.
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