Do I need to use a special toothbrush
when I have braces?
You can use a regular soft toothbrush when you have braces, 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. This is often called a “v-trim” toothbrush. They are difficult to find in stores, but your orthodontist will usually have some to give you. DentaKit carries a particularly good v-trim manual toothbrush and several soft toothbrushes which are good for sensitive gums. 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.
To 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 or those made by DenTek . 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 ProxySoft (formerly Thornton 3-in-1 Floss), SuperFloss and Oral-B Glide Threader Floss. 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, and others such as GumChucks OrthoGami and Plackers OrthoPik Flossers can be found at DentaKit.com or many online drugstores.
You 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. There are many types of these on the market, including those made by DenTek (in a variety of widths), and ones with longer handles, such as those made by Tepe. DentaKit.com also carries a good variety of these interproximal brushes.
A WaterPik water flosser or a device like Oral Breeze’s QuickBreeze (which attaches to your sink faucet) or ShowerBreeze (which attaches in your shower) are also helpful. On the go, you might find a portable battery-powered WaterPik helpful. In fact, they even make a mini travel version of the WaterPik for travel called the Sidekick. It plugs into the wall socket and hold more water than the battery-operated model, so it’s ideal for long trips. My husband, who has periodontal problems, uses the Sidekick when he travels and he likes it a lot.
How do you brush your teeth with braces on?
First, rinse 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!
Can you use whitening toothpaste
when you wear braces?
It’s 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!
How do you floss your teeth with braces on?
Flossing braces is 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 or interproximal brushes, 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 Oral-B Glide Threader Floss. There are also other types of flossing tools you can try, such as GumChucks Orthogami, FlossFish, and Plackers Orthpick Flossers. All of these products are available at DentaKit.com and in some in pharmacies.
How can I keep my braces clean
at a restaurant or traveling?
Most people 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.
All these items are compactly offered in a product called DentaKit Braces Survival Kit, which is pictured here. 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.
Do I really need to brush my teeth after
every meal when I’m wearing braces?
Yes you should, because depending on what you eat, food gets stuck in and around the brackets. Besides looking gross, it causes tooth decay and bad breath. It also feels yucky. Some people can’t stand the feeling of food stuck in their brackets. You wouldn’t believe how much food can get stuck — often more than you’d imagine!
However, if you let the brushing slide every so often, it’s not the end of the world. Just try to be as diligent as possible on a regular basis. At the very least, swish your mouth with water and try to pick out any food that is stuck in your brackets. It’s also a good idea to floss each night, or at least a few times per week. Sometimes food gets stuck between teeth and you don’t realize it until you floss it out.
Some dentists also recommend a fluoride mouth rinse, such as ACT, which is available in most supermarkets and pharmacies, and comes in several flavors.
How often should I get my teeth
cleaned when I have braces?
Most dentists recommend that people get their teeth cleaned twice per year. For people with braces, this is especially important. Even if you brush and floss very well, a professional cleaning will ensure that you don’t develop decay. When you have braces, you should consider getting one or two extra cleanings per year. They do not take off your arch wires or brackets to do a cleaning. They usually work around your braces, or use a device called a Cavitron, which uses water and is like a high-powered Waterpik.