Getting braces can feel like a hassle. They’re invasive and sometimes uncomfortable. But, by putting up with a few months of annoyance (and learning the basics of dental hygiene with braces), patients can enjoy a great smile for years.

While your braces are working their magic, though, you’ll need to step up your dental hygiene habits.

“Just having braces makes it harder to keep the gums clean, because there are so many more surfaces to brush and floss around,” says Dr. Samantha Sacchetti, general dentist at Village Dental. This means a greater risk of decay and tooth loss.

Here’s how to keep your teeth clean and healthy when you have braces.

Dental Hygiene With Braces Tip: Step Up Your Brushing Game

Brushing regularly is always important, but that goes double for dental hygiene with braces. Dentists often recommend electric or power toothbrushes in general because they provide better results for less effort, and when it comes to braces, electric toothbrushes are ideal. “An electric toothbrush is easier to use and more effective at reaching under the gums and between the teeth,” Sacchetti says.

Interproximal brushes, which are designed to clean between teeth, also can help, Sacchetti says. “There are a bunch of different ones on the market and they’re great for cleaning chunks of debris from in between braces,” she says. “They’re also small enough to take on the go so you can clean up after eating.” In addition, using a toothpaste with fluoride can help prevent cavities and white spots, and a mouth rinse with fluoride in it can be helpful.

Turbocharge Your Flossing Routine

Yes, it’s harder to floss with a mouth full of metal, but it’s important to keep at it. Braces can trap bits of food in places that are hard to reach with a brush, so flossing regularly is important to keep your teeth and gums healthy when you have braces.

Sacchetti recommends using a floss threader when you have braces. This tool can help you get the floss between and around your teeth no matter what kind of braces you have. “Since the arch wire gets in the way of regular flossing, it’s important to use a floss threader to get underneath and floss all the way up to your gums,” she says. “It takes longer, but it’s worth it.”

Visit the Dentist More Often

Getting braces will mean more frequent appointments with your regular dentist in addition to those with your orthodontist. “The longer you’re in braces, the longer you have to brush and floss around them,” Sacchetti says, and checking in with the dentist can help ensure you’re doing it effectively.

“When you get your wire changed, it gives you an opportunity to brush and floss really well,” she says. “Your dentist and dental hygienist can make sure you’re not missing any spots.” If you don’t care for your teeth properly when you have braces, you may end up with white spots on your teeth where the braces were, so check in often with your oral-care professionals to keep your teeth healthy.

LEARN MORE*

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How to Pick Individual Dental Insurance

Gum Disease, Periodontal Disease or Gingivitis: What’s the Difference?

Mayo Clinic Dental Health Resources

*Hyperlinks to third-party websites are offered for informational purposes only. Starmount in no way controls, guarantees, endorses, sponsors or promotes these websites or their content.

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