How to Floss with Braces

Keeping your teeth looking good and clean is important, and flossing is a big part of the routine. And when you have braces, flossing can be twice as hard. You need to take your time, do it right, and be consistent. There are countless products and programs available to help you floss well during the time you have braces. There are some that are free, some that are low cost, and still others that can be quite expensive. Using a cheap toothbrush can run the risk of discoloring and damaging your teeth. A much better investment for your teeth is to consistently use an expensive toothbrush. Let Dillehay Orthodontics help you decide which route is the right one for you!

Common Misconceptions About Flossing and Braces:

  • Quickly flossing is still flossing

Yes, but no. While quickly flossing is still better than not flossing at all, it leaves behind food particles and other buildup that can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and discolored teeth. Fast and aggressive flossing is not very effective because it doesn’t remove plaque and it hurts your gums. Making sure every groove is cleaned and taking your time is very important when you have braces. As you progress you will develop technique and habits that will save you time flossing, but the thoroughness and care you show your braces must be maintained!

  • White marks left behind on teeth

The opposite is actually true. Braces stop food and drinks from touching certain parts of your teeth, and in turn keep that part of your teeth cleaner. The discoloring of the rest of your teeth is due to the food and drinks. Proper brushing and flossing will help remove the food particles and reduce the staining. Once you have your braces removed, your clean, brushed teeth will match the parts of your teeth that were hidden behind the braces. To prevent white spots after braces, make sure to brush underneath the wires of your braces, use special brushes, use special flossers, brush with fluoride toothpaste, and limit the amount of sugary food and drinks you consume. Keep those pearly whites white!

  • Floss after you brush

It truthfully doesn’t matter. Some dentists might tell you to only floss before brushing, while others will tell you flossing needs to be completed after brushing. Just be sure to do what YOUR orthodontist says is best for you. While most times it doesn’t matter for people without braces when they floss, there are certain types of braces and conditions that require you to brush specifically before or after. Dillehay Orthodontics will let you know what works best for your braces!

  • Teeth that are too close together to floss

It’s true that some teeth are too close together for standard floss, which is why there is smaller gauge floss made specifically for these teeth. Truth be told, there are floss sizes for every situation. Talk to us to make sure you’re using the right size floss!

  • The only floss to use is string floss

While string floss is the most convenient, it’s not the only floss in the world. An electric toothbrush, a floss toothpick, or a waterpik are all good alternatives to dental floss. A special floss made just for braces is heavier and stiffer than regular floss, but  watch out for where floss is made because several overseas producers make cheap knockoffs and can rip you off. Come talk to us at Dillehay Orthodontics about which one will work best for you!

woman flossing her teen with a water flosser

  • Bleeding gums

If you’re gums are bleeding, it’s a sign of injury or gum disease. You should see your orthodontist to rule out more serious gum problems if your gums bleed regularly. Possible causes of bleeding gums are a buildup of plaque, hard brushing, infection, improper flossing, a vitamin k deficiency, or leukemia. If your gums bleed every once in a while or just in random places, it’s probably a sign you’ve injured your gums with  floss. Our gums are sensitive mucous membranes that have blood vessels very close to the surface, and doesn’t take much to damage them. If you find you are bleeding because of the floss, talk to your orthodontist about learning a better technique. Repeated injuries to your gums can result in damage to your teeth!

Flossing With Braces

  • Start by rinsing your mouth with water to flush out any loose pieces of food. This is as easy as finishing a drink at the table or rinsing at the sink.
  • You should brush your teeth after every time you eat. Skipping brushing leads to problems in the future. Keeping a small container of mouthwash handy can be a good  alternative for those days when you just can’t brush.
  • If you use interproximal brushes, carefully go in between each tooth and wire to make sure you clean all the whole area. The brushes goal is to loosen and remove larger bits of food. Make sure you spend the time to get this part right.
  • Next up, the actual brushing! Use a pencil-tip-sized drop of toothpaste— most people use too much— on a brush that’s been specifically designed for braces. You will receive greater results by using a brush designed for braces, even though all toothbrushes will get the job done. A V-shape has been cut from the middle of the brush to accommodate the braces.
  • Remember that each tooth has a top, back, front, 2 sides— and now has a top, bottom and 2 sides to the braces so remember to brush each tooth along all these surfaces. You should spend at least 2 minutes brushing your teeth, or about 5 seconds per tooth. Spend extra time on the back teeth where food can collect between the tooth and gum.

Girl with braces flossing teeth

We know the process of braces can be uncomfortable at times. But, it’s important to remain positive, maintain a proper cleaning routine, and stick to the guidelines provided by your orthodontist. When you see your new smile after your braces come off,  it will be totally worth it! At Dillehay Orthodontics we strive to make every step of the process simple, easy, and as comfortable as possible. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about orthodontics and get all of your questions answered!