How To Brush Your Teeth with Braces

May 11, 2024

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is crucial, but it becomes even more important when you have braces. 

Braces, designed to straighten and align your teeth, also create small spaces where food particles and plaque can easily accumulate. This makes thorough cleaning essential to prevent dental issues like cavities and gum disease. 

In this blog, we'll provide you with eight practical tips to effectively clean your teeth with braces, ensuring your smile remains bright and healthy throughout your orthodontic journey. 

Tip 1: Choose the Right Toothbrush

When you're learning how to effectively brush teeth with braces, the choice of toothbrush plays a pivotal role. With braces, your oral hygiene demands more precision and gentleness to protect both your dental hardware and your teeth. 

When selecting your toothbrush, consider factors like bristle hardness, head size, and handle comfort. A smaller head can help you maneuver more easily around your braces, reaching all surfaces of your teeth. Look for toothbrushes that are endorsed by dental professionals and ideally designed for use with braces.

That said, here’s what you need to consider when selecting the right toothbrush:

  • Soft-Bristled Toothbrush: Soft bristles are essential for anyone, but especially for those with braces. They are gentle on the gums and sensitive areas around the braces while being tough enough to remove plaque and food particles without damaging the braces or irritating your mouth.
  • Orthodontic Toothbrush: Designed specifically for those with braces, orthodontic toothbrushes feature a V-shaped bristle pattern that fits comfortably around the brackets and wires, enhancing the cleaning process. This design allows the bristles to reach hard-to-clean areas, ensuring that no part of your tooth surface is neglected.
  • Electric Toothbrush with Orthodontic Head: An electric toothbrush can be a great choice for those with braces. Many models come with heads specially designed for orthodontic care. These brushes often provide a more consistent motion and can be more effective at removing plaque around the brackets and along the gum line.

Tip 2: Brush After Every Meal

To maintain optimal oral hygiene with braces, it's essential to brush your teeth after every meal. Braces can trap food particles more easily than teeth without braces, leading to increased plaque buildup and potential dental issues like cavities and gum disease. By brushing after each meal, you immediately remove these trapped particles, which helps prevent the development of plaque and keeps your mouth clean.

Brushing frequently also helps to prevent staining on your teeth. Braces can leave marks if food particles are allowed to linger, as they can stain the teeth around the brackets. Additionally, regular brushing minimizes the risk of bad breath, which can be exacerbated by food remnants that remain trapped in the braces.

If you find yourself without a toothbrush while away from home, rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water can serve as a temporary solution. This will help wash away some food particles until you have the opportunity to brush properly.

Tip 3: Use the Correct Technique

Using the correct brushing technique is crucial when you have braces. The presence of brackets and wires on your teeth introduces additional surfaces and crevices where plaque can accumulate and lead to dental problems. Here's how to effectively brush teeth with braces using the right technique:

  • Angle Your Brush: Position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. This angle helps the bristles reach both above and below the brackets, which is essential for removing plaque and food particles from these hard-to-reach areas.
  • Brush in Sections: Break your mouth into sections and spend time on each one. For instance, focus on the upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left sections separately. Ensure you brush both the outer and inner surfaces of your teeth in each section.
  • Gentle Strokes: Use gentle strokes and light pressure to brush all surfaces of your teeth. Vigorous brushing can damage the brackets and irritate your gums.
  • Brush in Circular Motions: Employ gentle, circular motions to brush all surfaces of your teeth. This technique helps to effectively clean each tooth and gum area without causing damage to the braces.
  • Clean Above and Below Brackets: Pay special attention to the areas above and below each bracket, as these areas are prone to accumulating food and plaque.
  • Brush Each Tooth Individually: Take the time to focus on each tooth—front, back, and chewing surfaces—to ensure no area is overlooked.

This technique ensures that you are not only keeping the visible parts of your teeth clean but also addressing the spaces around and under the brackets and wires, where bacteria are most likely to hide.

Tip 4: Floss Daily

Flossing daily is essential when you have braces, as it removes plaque and food particles that a toothbrush cannot reach. This is especially important with braces, as the brackets and wires can trap food in places that are not accessible by brushing alone. 

Here’s how to ensure effective flossing:

  • Use Waxed Floss or a Floss Threader: Waxed floss is less likely to catch on braces, making it easier to navigate around wires and between teeth. A floss threader can help you get the floss under the wires and reach the gum line.
  • Gentle Motion: Gently move the floss up and down between each set of teeth, including under the gum line. Be careful not to snap the floss into the gums, as this can cause irritation.
  • Thorough Cleaning: Make sure to floss around each tooth, including behind the last teeth in each quadrant of your mouth. This helps ensure all plaque and food particles are removed, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Regular flossing not only helps keep your teeth and gums healthy but also reduces the chances of staining around brackets, which can be noticeable once braces are removed.

Tip 5: Rinse with Mouthwash

Rinsing with a mouthwash is a highly beneficial addition to your dental care routine, especially when you have braces. Mouthwash can reach places that brushing and flossing might miss, helping to further reduce the risk of plaque and bacterial buildup. 

When choosing a mouthwash, make sure you choose one that has fluoride and is alcohol-free to avoid irritation of the gum tissues, which can be more sensitive with braces. Fluoride mouthwash helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay.

Also incorporate rinsing with mouthwash into your daily routine, ideally after brushing and flossing. This helps to dislodge any remaining food particles and bacteria, providing an additional layer of protection against cavities and gum disease.

Swish the mouthwash around your mouth vigorously for 30 seconds to a minute to ensure it reaches all areas, especially around and under the braces where food particles can easily get trapped.

Using mouthwash regularly not only enhances oral hygiene but also keeps your breath fresher, an added benefit when managing the complexities of braces.

Tip 6: Pay Attention to Each Bracket

Paying close attention to each bracket is crucial when you brush teeth with braces. The brackets on your braces can trap food particles and plaque if not cleaned properly, leading to issues like tooth decay and gum disease. 

Each bracket should be individually cleaned to ensure that all debris is removed. Focus on the area around the brackets as well as under the wires. This can be challenging due to their placement, but it’s vital for maintaining oral health throughout the course of your orthodontic treatment.

Tip 7: Don’t Forget Your Gums

While focusing on brushing teeth with braces, it's equally important not to neglect your gums. Gums are the foundation of oral health, and inflamed or infected gums can complicate your orthodontic treatment and impact overall dental health. Make sure to gently brush your gums along with your teeth to remove plaque and stimulate circulation in the gum tissues.

Maintaining healthy gums is critical, as issues such as gingivitis can undermine the benefits of your orthodontic work. By keeping your gums healthy, you ensure that your teeth have a strong, supportive structure, which is crucial for the success of your braces treatment.

Tip 8: Brush Your Tongue and the Roof of Your Mouth

In addition to brushing your teeth with braces, it's important to remember to clean your tongue and the roof of your mouth. 

This comprehensive approach to oral hygiene helps eliminate bacteria that can cause bad breath and further dental issues. The tongue and roof of the mouth can harbor bacteria and food particles that contribute to plaque buildup, so cleaning these areas is essential.

When brushing, gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper for this purpose. 

After brushing your tongue, move to the roof of your mouth, using gentle strokes to clean the area thoroughly. This routine not only enhances your oral health but also keeps your mouth feeling fresh and clean.

Final Words

We've covered essential tips for effectively brushing teeth with braces, each designed to enhance your oral hygiene. 

Diligently following these guidelines will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout your orthodontic treatment. Consistency is key in achieving the best results and keeping your smile bright and clean.

If you want to get the best braces treatment in Somerville, MA, look no further than Somerville Orthodontics. 

Our expert team, led by Dr. Moonyoung Lee, is dedicated to delivering exceptional orthodontic care tailored to your unique needs. We prioritize your comfort and satisfaction, ensuring that every aspect of your treatment plan is crafted to achieve the perfect smile. 


To learn more about our services, schedule a consultation today! We will be sure to answer all your questions and place you on your journey to a healthier smile.

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