Brushing Technique With Braces
Braces are a great way to improve your smile and your oral health. But, it is important that you take extra steps to keep your teeth healthy during your orthodontic treatment. You should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day (preferably after meals), for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all of the tooth surfaces: the front, the back, and the chewing surfaces as well. Be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, and between brackets and gums — that’s where food particles can easily become trapped.
Here’s how to practice proper tooth brushing with braces:
- Rinse your mouth out with water first to get some of the loose food particles out of your mouth.
- Rinse your toothbrush with hot water to clear any food particles.
- When brushing front-facing sides of the teeth, create a 45 degree angle between the brush and the gum line.
- Brush in gentle circular motions from the top of the tooth to the bottom and then from bottom to top. Try not to exert too much force on either the wire or the brackets.
- When brushing the inside angles of teeth, work methodically creating the same 45 degree angle with the brush.
- The back surfaces of the teeth should pose no additional problems and should be brushed in the regular way.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.
Special brushing tools
If you are having trouble cleaning the areas near brackets and wires, there are some special tools that may help. One is the interdental toothbrush. It has a small tuft of bristles that can reach the inaccessible areas missed with the toothbrush. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.
Another special cleaning tool is the oral irrigator or water flosser. This device shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies. While it is easy to use, an oral irrigator is not a substitute for a toothbrush or dental floss — but when used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it can be very effective.
Flossing is also of paramount importance. Plaque and food particles can quickly provide fuel for the formation of bacteria colonies that cause gum disease and tooth loss. Though flossing between braces can be more time-consuming, it should still be completed several times per day. Floss threaders can be used or the floss can be wrapped around fingers in the standard method. First, thread a piece of floss underneath the archwire of the braces. Slide the floss in an up-and-down motion against the large surface of the tooth. Exercise great care around the bracket and archwire, as they can easily be damaged by excess pressure. Next, guide the floss to the interdental area (between the teeth) and use gentle sawing motions to move down from the gum line toward the bottom of the tooth. Repeat this motion several times. Then, using the same sawing motion, work the floss from the bottom of the tooth toward the gum line several times.