Got Braces? Tips For Keeping Your Hardware Spick-And-Span

Posted on: 5 February 2015

Braces — they're the bane of a clean mouth. With all those wires and bands, it's almost impossible to purge your mouth of leftover food particles and bacteria no matter how many times you brush your teeth. And the longer trapped food sits on your teeth, the more likely you are to develop cavities and other problems that can seriously affect your oral health. So what can you do to keep your braces clean, so that when they come off you'll not only have a straight smile, but a sparkling one as well?

1. Use floss threaders.

Unlike the traditional method of flossing, which involves wrapping either end of a section of floss around a finger and pushing it down between the teeth, a floss threader is like a needle and thread. A person threads the floss through the eye of a very thin, flexible plastic "needle," which is then inserted between the bases of two teeth, under the brace wire. This allows you to get past the wire and floss right up against the gum line, where food and bacteria like to hide.

2. Floss with water.

Water flossers can be used in conjunction with string floss to increase your chances of removing plaque from your braces. A water flosser directs a steady stream of water at your gums and between your teeth to flush food and bacteria out of crevices and cavities where toothbrush bristles can't reach. In some cases, flossing with water has been shown to be up to three times more effective at removing plaque than using a floss threader and five times more effective than brushing alone.

3. Get the big stuff out.

If you're not in a position to floss throughout the day or after every meal, using an interproximal brush, sometimes called a "go-between," is better than nothing. Formed like a tree-shaped pipe cleaner, this does well at removing food from between brackets. It can also be used to give a quick scrub to the brackets. They come in a variety of sizes, each of which can be helpful for a different job--the smaller ones are good for cleaning between brackets, while the larger ones can be used for working around molars and brushing across a line of brackets.

4. Embrace fluoride.

Fluoride fights against cavities, so swishing a fluoride mouthwash around your mouth after flossing and brushing can provide your teeth and braces temporary protection against bacteria. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste, as well.

While it can be difficult to take care of your actual teeth during orthodontic treatment, these four tips can help. Ask your orthodontist or dentist if you have any further questions.