Keeping Your Braces
Clean and Comfortable
Do I need
to use a special toothbrush or other gadgets when I have
Yes and no.
You can use a regular soft toothbrush, but most
orthodontists recommend an orthodontic-cut toothbrush, where
the bristles in the middle are lower than the bristles on
the edges and cut into a "v" shape. You can also use any electric toothbrush, such as
a Sonicare or
Oral-B Braun. These do an especially good job
of cleaning your teeth.
floss your teeth, you don't necessarily need special floss.
You can use any type of floss with a plastic threader needle
such as BridgeAid. The plastic threader helps you bring the
floss under the arch wire for each bracket.
To make things
easier, there are also several types of "threader floss"
which is a length of floss that has a built-in stiff
threader end. Some popular brands of threader floss are
Thornton 3-in-1 Floss, SuperFloss, Crest Glide Threader
Floss, and SturdyFloss which was created by a dental
hygienist. An enterprising orthodontic patient even invented
a tool he calls "FlossFish" to help you floss under your
brackets with any type of regular dental floss. Many of
these flossing tools can be found at
DentaKit.com or many
might also want to get a small spiral dental brush
(sometimes called an "interproximal brush" or a "proxi-brush") or a
rubber-tipped stimulator to help clean food debris out from
between the brackets before you brush. A WaterPik or a
device like Oral Breeze's
QuickBreeze (which attaches to your
sink faucet) or ShowerPik (which attaches in your shower) are also helpful.
finally, you will need some dental wax, because inevitably,
the brackets will irritate the insides of your cheeks at
first and you will want some relief from the irritation.
do you need to use wax when you have braces?
Wax helps to
create a barrier between the bracket and the inside of your
cheeks and lips. It helps prevent the bracket from irritating your
cheeks or gums. At first you will probably use a lot of
dental wax, but as your get used to your braces and the
insides of your cheeks "toughen up" you may wind up using
How do you use
orthodontic dental wax on your braces?
use dental wax, break off a tiny bit of wax from the
container, smoosh it
with your fingers a bit to mold it,
then place it directly on the bracket that is causing the
irritation, as shown in this photo. Dental wax
is non-toxic, so it's ok if you swallow it. Wax tends to
break down over time, so you'll probably have to apply more after eating a meal. Take off the wax before you brush your
teeth, or it will gunk up your toothbrush.
silicone, such as Ortho-Sil is a little different. It lasts
longer than regular dental wax. Your brackets must be
extremely dry when you apply dental silicone, or it will not
stick to them. Some people love dental silicone and some
prefer regular wax. If you have never used OrthoSil, ask
your orthodontist for a small packet, or buy just one
container to try before buying a large quantity.
dentist/orthodontist gives you some dental wax after you get
your braces put on. Most pharmacies (both online and local) carry dental wax. DentaKit.com
also carries silicone dental wax, as well as several types of lip
protectors which are alternatives to wax.
can you use to ease irritations inside your mouth in the
first weeks of braces?
A warm salt
water rinse, several times per day, can be very soothing.
But if that isn't enough, try a mouth rinse called Rincinol PRN, which helps to heal mouth sores. You can find this
product at many stores online, or at your local drugstore or
pharmacy. You may also want to read our page of suggestions
about canker sore remedies,
which contains many suggestions.
How do you
brush your teeth with braces on?
with warm water a couple of times to dislodge any food particles. You can also
use a rubber-tipped gum massager to dislodge any
particularly stubborn particles that are badly stuck in your
brackets. Now you can use a small amount of toothpaste and
brush your teeth.
It is best to
use circular, vibrating motions around the gum line. Angle
your toothbrush above and below the brackets. Scrub each
surface of every tooth with 10 strokes of the toothbrush.
This should take several minutes -- be as thorough as
possible. Don't forget to also clean the surfaces of the
molars and to also brush your tongue!
you use whitening toothpaste when you wear braces?
best not to use a whitening toothpaste until after your
braces come off. If you use a whitening toothpaste on a
daily basis, the teeth underneath the brackets may not be as
white as the rest of your teeth when your braces come off!
do you floss your teeth with braces on?
It's a little
tricky at first. You must thread the floss
under the arch
wire between each tooth, floss under the gumline, then remove it. Repeat for
each tooth. At first it will take about 15 minutes to floss
all of your teeth, but with
practice you will get faster and more efficient at doing
it. It is important to floss EVERY NIGHT. Even if you
use a Waterpik device, you should still floss. Braces
are notorious for hiding tiny pieces of food you could
have sworn were rinsed away!
You can use any type of floss that is
comfortable. Most people attach the floss to a plastic
needle called a Floss Threader, or use floss that has a
stiff end, such as SturdyFloss or Glide Threader Floss, as mentioned a few paragraphs earlier.
can I keep my braces clean after eating at a restaurant or
who have braces carry a little dental kit to help them in
such situations. A dental kit should contain a dental pick,
some floss and floss threaders, a toothbrush, and some
toothpaste. A travel cup is also a good idea. It is easy to
put one together yourself.
items are compactly offered in a product called
Survival Kit, which is pictured here on the right.
This is a product that I created a few months after
getting my braces. I needed a kit like this and couldn't
find one anywhere, so I created one! Like most
people, I started out by putting some stuff in a baggie,
and then a small cosmetic bag. One of the advantages of
the DentaKit product is that everything is held securely
in the pockets, making it easy and convenient to use.
All the tools included in the kit are designed to help
you clean your braces. Thousands of orthodontic
patients worldwide have bought this kit and tell me that
they consider it a valuable tool in helping to keep
their teeth and braces clean. It includes everything you
need to clean your braces "on the go," including a
unique leak-proof pop-up folding cup, and extra pockets
to put lip gloss, Chapstick, or hand wipes.