Oral Hygiene When you Wear Braces

Braces create small ledges, nooks, and crannies for food deposits, which can lead to cavities and gum problems. It’s more important to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen throughout the  your orthodontic treatment than it was before. Careful brushing and flossing, preferably after every meal and snack and before bed, is the best way to prevent plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum disease.

When brushing, it’s best to use fluoride toothpaste to help fight cavities. Drs. Nichelini and Shanahan may also prescribe a fluoride mouth rinse for this purpose. There are many good ways to protect your teeth. The best is to star with a  good brushing technique:

  • Start by brushing the outside of each tooth at least 10 times.
  • Then brush where your gums and teeth meet, using a circular motion.
  • Brush the inside surface of each tooth at least 10 times, too.
  • Finally, brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth.


An interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) is another aid you might find useful in keeping your teeth, braces, and gums clean and healthy. It can be used to clean under orthodontic wires and around braces. Use this device slowly and carefully so you don’t damage your braces.

Although flossing can be a challenge while wearing braces, brushing alone won’t keep your teeth clean and healthy. A floss threader, available from our office or a pharmacy can make flossing easier. Follow this flossing technique:

  • Thread floss through the threader and slip it up behind your archwire.
  • Pull the floss between two teeth and up under your gum margins.
  • Rinse with lots of clean water, and watch your teeth and braces sparkle!

For the first week in braces, your teeth may be a little sore; so we recommend sticking to a soft food diet until the discomfort subsides. Generally, though, you can eat almost all of your favorite foods. But please stay away from these troublemakers:

  • Sticky foods like gum, taffy, and caramels
  • Hard foods like apples, carrots, ice, and pizza crust
  • Crunchy foods like corn chips, popcorn, and nuts
  • To prevent tooth decay, minimize sugary foods, like ice cream and cookies; and reduce sugary drinks to once a day.

During the retention phase, after your braces have been removed, it’s important to brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth.