Brushing and Flossing

Newbury Park & Thousand Oaks Orthodontist Dr. Hoffman Shares His Tips

It’s no secret: Brushing and flossing are the key to optimal oral health. This is doubly true when you are an orthodontic patient with braces or Invisalign. For patients wearing braces, tiny particles of food can be trapped on your brackets and wires, causing bacteria to build up on your teeth. And if you put your Invisalign aligners back in after eating without brushing first, you are trapping any debris from your meal against your teeth for hours. Many people ask me, “What is the best way to brush my teeth with braces?” Here are some answers to help you out.

It’s All About The Basics

For the most part, you’ll brush and floss the same with some minor technique and equipment changes to make sure you don’t do any damage to your orthodontics. First, using a soft bristle or bi-level (short bristles in the middle and long bristles around the perimeter) toothbrush is the best option. Also, electric toothbrushes are fine, too, as long as the bristles are soft and you keep the power level lower so you don’t damage any brackets.

Using fluoride toothpaste, brush twice to three times daily, typically after eating any meals. It’s important to brush for at least two minutes. Most people don’t brush long enough. So play your favorite song while you brush your teeth to time yourself. Once the song ends, you are good to go! Also, be sure to brush all the surfaces of your teeth and mouth – the tops of your teeth, backs, fronts and your tongue and inside your cheeks, which bacteria love to grow on. Pay special attention to the areas where your brackets come in contact with teeth and between your wires, as food particles are easily trapped there.

Brushing Techniques

Try brushing like this every time for the best results. Start with the outside surface of your teeth by placing the bristles flat against your teeth and use small, gentle circular motions to polish them clean. Then, focus on your gum line by tilting the brush so your bristles face your gum line and use the same motion to brush along your gum line. From there, focus on the chewing surfaces of your top and bottom teeth, using firm back and forth motions. Finally, don’t forget the insides of your teeth and tongue by brushing with the same motion as the front of your teeth.

Special Tools To Use When Brushing

Sometimes, food particles can get stuck easily. That’s why there are some special tools to make brushing with braces even easier and more effective.

  • Interdental Toothbrush (proxabrush) – This brush has tiny bristles all over, similar to a pipe cleaner. Use it to clean behind and around your archwire, bands and brackets for a deep clean.
  • Water Pick – This uses a small stream of pressurized water to blast away debris from between teeth and around your braces. Do not use this tool alone. It is designed to compliment regular brushing and flossing, not replace it.

Flossing The Right Way

You should be flossing once a day, at night while watching TV is best, since your just sitting there anyways! Might as well help your smile out! One difficulty with flossing with braces is getting under the archwire. What you need is a floss threader, which we are happy to provide you with. Pull one end of the floss through the threader. You push the threader under your archwire, then, grab the end of floss and floss as normal, using a new section of floss between each set of teeth.

Double Checking Your Work

If you are curious about how effective your brushing and flossing technique is, simply find some vegetable dyes called “discoloring solutions” or “discoloring tablets.” Place them in your mouth, and as they dissolve, the dye will highlight areas of plaque and food debris that you missed. You can then brush these areas more thoroughly to make sure your smile is clean as can be.

Contact Newbury Park Orthodontics With Any Questions Today

We want to make sure your smile is healthy and perfect. If you have any questions about brushing, flossing or need any of the tools we talked about to help you maintain good oral healthy, simply contact us. We are always here to help.

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