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Oral Hygiene with Braces

You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food compacts in the brackets and between your teeth, and can only be removed by brushing and flossing. If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it will leave a permanent white scar on the surface. Brushing after meals should become part of your daily schedule.


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Step 1: Use a toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste.

Step 2: Use a circular, vibrating motions about the gumline for about 10 seconds on each tooth.

Step 3: Angle your tooth brush (up for lower jaw, down for upper jaw) and keep moving in a circular motion to clean between gums and braces.

Step 4: Angle the brush to clean the rest of each tooth around the braces.

Step 5: Brush the inside surface of your upper and lower jaw as well as behind your top and bottom front teeth.


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Step 1: Floss nightly after brushing to remove the plaque missed by brushing. To get under the archwire you can use a floss threader. Start by pulling the floss through the threader. Push the floss threader under the archwire and pull the floss through.

Step 2: Carefully pull waxed floss between wire and braces.

Step 3: Carefully pull the floss out and use a new section of floss for each tooth.


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Anti-cavity fluoride mouth rinses are recommended to help prevent white spots and tooth decay around the braces.

Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Rinsing your mouth with Antiseptic Mouthwash for 30 seconds twice a day has been shown to reduce bacterial plaque and gingivitis by 20% in three clinical studies. Always spit out the Mouthwash after 30 second rinses.


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An interdental tooth brush can be useful in keeping teeth, gums, and braces healthy and clean. You can use an interdental brush under orthodontic wires and around your braces. Be sure to use your interdental brush carefully so as not to damage your braces.

Retainer Care

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Clean your retainer by brushing it daily with toothpaste. Denture cleaner can also be used for a more thorough cleaning. If you are wearing a bonded wire retainer behind your front teeth, be extra careful to clean the wire and the area around it. Flossing should be done every day.

Foods to Avoid

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Please do not eat hard foods: nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, ribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating) and popcorn! These foods risk breaking brackets and wires.

Also be careful of nail biting and pen or pencil chewing habits, since these can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods: taffy, caramels, bubble gum, or sticky candy of any sort. A small piece of sugarless gum occasionally is acceptable. Use common sense about most foods.