Oral Hygiene with Braces

Oral hygiene with braces is a little different than what you are used to and very important to a successful outcome. We have compiled some helpful tips, tricks, and other information to answer your questions about keeping your teeth and braces clean.

Once you have your orthodontic appliances or braces in place, keeping your teeth, gums and appliances clean is very important. Braces, wires, bands and retainers can all trap food particles and make it difficult to brush or floss away plaque. Careful brushing and flossing, preferably after every meal and snack is the best way to prevent plaque buildup, tooth decay and gum disease.

Follow Dr. Walker’s recommendations to learn how to keep up good oral hygiene while wearing braces and maintain a healthy smile for life.


  1. Start with the outside of the teeth, with the brush at a straight angle. Use circular, vibrating angles.
  2. Clean the area between the gums and braces by angling the brush down (up for the lower jaw). Keep moving it in a small circular motion.
  3. Clean the rest of the outside of the teeth by angling the brush up (down for the lower jaw).
  4. Carefully brush your teeth’s chewing surface of both the upper and lower jaw.
  5. Brush the inside of your teeth.
  6. Finish by gently brushing your tongue to remove any bacteria and keep your breath fresh!


Flossing Teeth with Braces - Walker Orthodontics

Image from dentistry.about.com

  1. Floss at least once per day. The floss needs to be pulled underneath the arch wire, a floss threader facilitates this. Start by pulling floss through the threader.
  2. Push the end of the floss threader under the arch wire and pull the floss through.
  3. Pull the floss up between the teeth and gently move it up and down the side of both teeth. Remember to move it up all the way under the gums.
  4. Pull the floss out and use a different section of it for the next tooth.


Flouride Rinse of Mouth - Walker Orthodontics

Image Courtesy of Kahilas.blogspot.com

When you are finished brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth carefully with water. A fluoride mouth rinse like ACT or Crest ProHealth can be very helpful in keeping your teeth healthy.

Interdental Toothbrush

An interdental toothbrush (proxabrush) is another aid you might find useful to keep your teeth, braces and gums clean and healthy. It can be used to clean under orthodontic elastics and wires and around braces. Use this device slowly and carefully, so you do not damage your braces.

Interdental toothbrushes come in a variety of designs and colors so you can mix and match them with your regular toothbrush.

Retainer Care

Orthodontic appliances tend to accumulate food particles and plaque just like teeth do. Every time you brush your teeth, brush your removable appliances. This is best done by holding the retainer under a stream of cold water and brushing it with a clean toothbrush (do not use toothpaste). For freshening your retainer, it may be dipped into a mild mouthwash solution for a few seconds. Click here for more information about retainer care.

Foods to Avoid

For most situations, common sense will prevail and tell you what foods to avoid. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between wires and brackets. Also try to minimize your sugary foods as they cause tooth decay and related problems.

There are many soft foods to enjoy after getting braces, but there are some foods that could damage the braces and appliances. Here are some examples of common foods to avoid while wearing orthodontic braces: