How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces

How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces

Having braces is an exciting step towards achieving a straighter, more confident smile. But with the addition of brackets, wires, and bands comes the challenge of maintaining good oral hygiene. Here’s a detailed guide that will equip you with all the knowledge and tools for brushing teeth with braces keeping teeth gleaming and healthy. 

1. What are Braces?

Braces are a system of brackets, wires, and elastics that work together to gradually move your teeth into their ideal positions. Braces can be made of metal, ceramic, or a combination of both, and they are customized for each individual’s needs. 

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial during this process because plaque buildup around the brackets can lead to cavities and gum disease.

2. Why Oral Hygiene Matters More Than Ever

With braces creating extra nooks and crannies, plaque (a sticky film harboring bacteria) can accumulate more easily. This plaque can harden into tartar, which is much harder to remove and can irritate the gums, leading to gingivitis (gum inflammation). 

By diligently cleaning your teeth and braces, you prevent plaque buildup, keeping your smile healthy and your breath fresh.

3. Required Tools

To effectively clean your teeth with braces, you’ll need a few additional tools beyond your regular toothbrush and toothpaste:

Soft-bristled toothbrush:

A soft-bristled brush is gentle on your gums and helps clean around the brackets without damaging them.

Fluoride toothpaste: 

Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities, which are a particular concern with braces.

Interdental brushes (proximal brushes): 

These small, cone-shaped brushes are designed to clean between your teeth and under the wires of your braces.

Floss threaders: 

These handy tools help guide dental floss under your braces to clean between your teeth.

Water flosser (optional): 

A water flosser uses a pressurized stream of water to clean between teeth and under braces.

4. Brushing Technique

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Angle your brush:

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your gum line.

Brush gently:

Use gentle circular motions to clean the gum line above, below, and around each tooth bracket.

Target the brackets:

Tilt the brush head and brush on top of the brackets, then underneath them, ensuring you clean all surfaces.

Don’t forget the chewing surfaces: 

Brush the tops (occlusal surfaces) of your teeth using back-and-forth motions.

Brush for two minutes: 

Aim to brush for two minutes, twice a day, paying attention to each quadrant of your mouth (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) for 30 seconds each.

5. Brushing Frequency

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining good oral hygiene with braces. Brushing your teeth after every meal (or at least three times a day) and before bed is essential to remove food particles and prevent plaque buildup.

6. Flossing with Braces

Flossing is just as important with braces as it is without. However, traditional flossing can be tricky with braces. Here are two options for effective flossing:

Floss threaders: 

Thread the floss under the wire using the threader, then floss between each tooth as usual.

Interdental brushes: 

Gently insert the interdental brush between your teeth and under the wire, moving it back and forth to clean the space.

7. Rinsing and Mouthwash

Using a fluoride mouthwash after brushing can provide additional protection against cavities. Look for a mouthwash specifically designed for braces to ensure it’s gentle on your brackets and wires. Here are some oral hygiene tips to consider:  

Alcohol-free mouthwash:

Opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash. Alcohol can be drying and potentially irritating to the gums, which are already more susceptible to inflammation with braces.

Fluoride concentration:

Look for a mouthwash with a fluoride concentration of 0.05%, which is the recommended level for most people.

8. Dietary Considerations

Certain foods can damage your braces or make cleaning them more difficult. Here are some things to avoid or limit:

Sticky foods: 

Candy, caramels, and other sticky treats can get stuck in your braces and be difficult to remove, increasing the risk of cavities.

Hard foods: 

Hard candies, nuts, and raw vegetables can damage or break your braces. Cut hard foods into small pieces before eating them.

Chewy foods: 

Chewy bagels, chewy candy, and jerky can put stress on your braces and wires.

9. Regular Orthodontic Visits

Schedule regular appointments with your orthodontist for orthodontic care. They will adjust your braces, monitor your progress, and address any concerns. During these regular visits, your orthodontist will typically perform the following:


One of the most important aspects of orthodontic treatment is making adjustments to your braces. These adjustments can involve tightening wires, adding new elastics, or replacing brackets. These adjustments are crucial for keeping your teeth moving in the desired direction and ensuring your treatment stays on track.

Progress monitoring: 

Your orthodontist will closely monitor your progress using X-rays, photographs, and visual examinations. They can assess how your teeth are moving, identify any potential issues, and adjust your treatment plan if necessary.

Oral health check: 

Your orthodontist will also check your overall oral health, including your gums and the health of the tissues around your teeth. They can identify any early signs of gingivitis or other problems and recommend appropriate treatment.

10. Managing Issues

Braces can sometimes cause temporary discomfort, especially when you first get them or after adjustments. Here are some tips to manage these issues:


Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate soreness after getting your braces tightened.


The brackets may rub against your inner cheeks or lips, causing irritation. Apply orthodontic wax to the brackets to create a smooth barrier.

Loose brackets:

 If a bracket loosens or breaks, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible to schedule a repair appointment.

11. Long-Term Care

Once your braces come off, you’ll be thrilled to show off your beautiful new smile! But remember, good oral hygiene habits are essential for life. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Maintain your brushing and flossing routine: 

Continue brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, and floss daily.

Regular dental care routine: 

Schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups with your dentist to maintain optimal oral health.

Retainer care: 

Your orthodontist may recommend wearing a retainer to keep your teeth in their new positions. Be sure to clean and care for your retainer as instructed.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, brushing with braces may require a bit more effort, but with the right tools, techniques, and consistent practice, you can maintain a healthy smile throughout your orthodontic journey. By following these tips and recommendations, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a dazzling smile that will last a lifetime!