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How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces Properly and Keep Them Healthy

braces brush

Did your dentist tell you about cleaning your teeth now that you (or your child) have braces? Did you get the pamphlet? How about a demonstration for how to care for teeth with braces?

When you got home, was it as easy as they said? Did it go well?

Probably not, if you’re here reading this.

And that’s OK, it’s normal. Your orthodontist didn’t have much time to spend making sure your braces care was top notch. It’s one of the reasons they want you to come back so often: most people really don’t know best way to brush teeth with braces. You aren’t alone and you are very normal.

Leave us a comment below with your stories on how much or little your dentist told you.

The best news is you can be above average and become stellar. It just takes a little work, and a lot of patience.

Brushing Your Teeth With Braces

When you really look at it, brushing is a simple act. You just need to know what the mouth needs and the simple tools to give your mouth what it needs.

not brushing teeth with braces

First things first, not brushing your teeth with braces is bad. It’s the fast track to cavities, discolored teeth, breaking teeth, teeth falling out, and gumming your food at the age of 30. You really do need to brush.

What Is The Best Toothbrush For Braces?

Any toothbrush will work, but orthodontists recommend using an orthodontic toothbrush. You can recognize it by the V shape, where the middle bristles are lower than the outer bristles. Read more on the best types of toothbrushes for braces in our next article.

You have many choices of toothbrushes. You can go with the simple, soft toothbrush or the fancy electronic ones. It comes down to your style.

Are you careful and make sure you get everything evenly? Then saving a few dollars and going with a manual toothbrush * is for you.

Are you looking for ease, and something to aid you in being consistent? Then an electronic toothbrush* is for you.

But, in either case, we recommend you know how to brush with a standard $0.25 toothbrush for those times when you’re stuck somewhere and you just can’t get to your normal brush.

How To Brush Your Teeth with Braces? Instructions:

You need to clean every surface of your teeth. Each surface, back, front, top, and in between, need to brushed for at least 10 seconds or 25 strokes. Brush away from your gums using a circular motion. This way, small particles don’t get shoved into your gum line.

Make sure you get around your braces. Food particles like to hide in braces cavities.

You can use a dental pick * to get between your teeth and in the nooks and crannies of the braces. Using a dental brush, also called and interdental brush or braces brush *, may reduce the time you actually brush because you just cleaned the hard to reach places.

Use the correct size brush for your teeth. A small brush is used for hard to reach places and larger brush heads make cleaning flat surfaces easier.

Floss after every brushing. Although, if you are using a dental pick or a dental brush, you don’t need to use the typical floss. Some dentists recommend using the dental brush before brushing and some recommend using it afterwards. Follow your dentists instructions as your particular situation could determine when you floss.

There is special floss for braces * that you may use. It has one stiff end that you can use to thread the floss between your teeth and gums. While not every dentist recommends this, it is available.

Rinse well with a good mouthwash *. One of the best recommended ones is a 1% solution of hydrogen peroxide. It works well to kill bacteria and do not leave a bad aftertaste in your mouth.

If you use any removable devices, such as a retainer or plastic guard, be sure to brush this as well. Rinse with clean water or mouthwash.

Finally, inspect your teeth and braces well at least once per day. Notice any surfaces that you do not get and make sure you spend a little more time there the next day. Take note of any areas your dentist points out and concentrate on those areas as well.

How Many Times Do You Brush Your Teeth With Braces?

This truly depends on how many times you eat or drink a sugary drink per day. For some people, they only eat twice a day and drink water. Other people eat 3 meals, 3 snacks, and have soda.

Whenever you eat, you need to brush your teeth afterwards. Whenever you have a sugary drink, you will need to brush afterwards.

You should also brush your teeth upon waking up and just before you go to bed.

Some people will only be brushing a few times per day. Others, many times.

how many times do you brush your teeth with braces

There is no set number of times for brushing, just that you keep food and sugar away from your braces as much as possible. Always brush after eating and after drinking a sugary drink.

How Do You Brush Your Teeth With Braces at School?

Leave us a comment below with some of your tips so we can help more people!

How to clean your braces at school is just like how to clean your braces at home. You brush!

But, it can be a little more challenging when you have to haul everything to the bathroom. Or, if your school even allows you to carry a toothbrush anymore (it could turn into a deadly weapon, you know).

First thing, you should discuss with your school teachers and nurse the fact you are getting braces and now have braces. That way, if there are any special precautions you need to take, you can have them all ready for you. Next, you need to make sure all your teachers will allow you to brush and know why it is necessary.

Plus, your teachers can be made aware that every 2-3 weeks you will be a little less happy. When your braces are adjusted, it can take a little toll on your mood.

braces at school

You are going to need to brush, pick, and floss after a meal. For most kids, that means lunch. Sometimes, you may have a party or snack where you will need to brush afterwards. When you talk to your teachers ahead of time, you will get your pass to go brush.

Here’s the biggest drawback of brushing at school: you will miss time with your friends to go brush. But, you still need to do it.

Then, once you have your toothbrush and you have a sink, brush away!

How To Brush Your Teeth With Braces Without a Toothbrush?

Have you heard of the toothbrush plant? It’s a small tree, salvadora persica, with branches that can clean teeth. Native Africans have used it for millennia to help keep their teeth clean.

Trust me, a toothbrush is better. And you won’t have the woodsy taste afterwards.

At the very least, rinse your mouth out with plain water. This can dislodge most larger particles and remove much of the sugar reside. Water is not caustic and will work in a pinch. But, it’s not a long-term solution, nor will it provide the necessary cleaning abilities a toothbrush will.

If you have a soft, cotton cloth or a paper towel, you can wrap your finger with it, add a dab of toothpaste, and buff your teeth. This is a little challenging with braces; you need to be careful you don’t rip the cloth or paper towel. If you find that water isn’t working, go ahead and pick out some of the problem areas with your finger! Just don’t use toilet paper. It’s too soft and those tiny pieces will make a mess of your braces.

The two biggest waves of teeth cleaning are really old time methods.

Baking Soda

Before toothpaste, baking soda was used. Today, we are finding it to be as effective, or more effective, than toothpaste. The basic actions are to scrape the plaque from the teeth, raise the pH of the mouth temporarily, making it deadly for bad bacteria, and providing odor control. It’s one of the main reasons many companies are adding it to their toothpaste *.

baking soda

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Just take 1/32 of a teaspoon (tiny amount!) of baking soda, mix it with a few drops of water to form a paste and use your finger (or a toothbrush) to work it into your teeth. And here’s the big thing: don’t swallow! The concentrated sodium part of the baking soda can skyrocket your blood pressure, upset your stomach, and burn on the way down. Rinse your mouth well afterward. If you have it, rinse with a 1:1 dilution of hydrogen peroxide (that mean take 1 teaspoon of 3% H2O2 and add 1 teaspoon of water).

Oil Pulling

Traditionally thought to come from India, oil pulling uses olive, sesame, or coconut oil to remove nasty residues in the mouth. About 2 tablespoons of oil are swished around the mouth for about 20 minutes (or as long as you can stand it).

The action of moving the oil around the mouth does many of the same things baking soda does. It provides friction against plaque to remove buildup, changes the pH to kill off bad bacteria, provides odor control, and it’s easy to get in between teeth. The oil then provides a very thin temporary layer of protection to your teeth.

oil pulling

Both baking soda and oil pulling can be used with braces, but we strongly recommend you check with your orthodontist to make sure they won’t hurt your braces. Most of the time, dentists will favor these simple methods because they are safe, historically well tested, and easier for people with braces.

How To Brush Teeth With Braces With an Electric Toothbrush?

Brushing with an electronic toothbrush is nearly the same as brushing with a regular toothbrush. You need to make sure each tooth is giving attention and all surfaces are clean. If you don’t have good hygiene with a regular toothbrush, an electronic toothbrush will not yield better results.

The upside of an electronic toothbrush is that is can provide much faster motions than you can create with your hand. It has the proper circular actions that dentists recommend to properly clean between the crevices of your teeth and gums.

Many people find electronic toothbrushes * easier, faster, and more reliable than regular tooth brushing.

But, there are downsides.

The two biggest downsides are cost and reliability.

Electronic toothbrushes are more expensive. The initial investment can be between $49 and $250. Then, you will need to replace batteries and bristle heads every few months. This cost can be $1 to $30.

Dentists are often leery about younger people using electronic toothbrushes. You need to be able to brush all surfaces of the teeth. Electronic toothbrushes are wider and bulkier than regular toothbrushes. This can make getting into the hard to reach places more difficult.

Here Are Some Basic Braces Care Tips

  • Chew you food thoroughly and eat slowly
  • Rinse well with water after eating
  • ​Always brush after eating
  • ​Use a dental pick to get the large stuf
  • ​Brush all your teeth every time
  • Rinse well again
  • Don’t play with your braces!

And finally, be open and honest with your dentist and orthodontist. They are there to help you gain a wonderful smile and healthy teeth. If you are having trouble brushing, contact them and start a conversation about how to keep your teeth clean with braces.

If you don’t like their answer, or you feel they are mad at you asking questions, find another orthodontist. There are hundreds to choose from and you don’t need to put up with them putting you down. It’s your smile, your future, your happiness. Fulfill your happiness and smile proud!

If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below to tell us about your experiences or ask any questions. Thanks!

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Olivia

    VERY HELPFUL!!!!!!!!

    • Olivia Thank you for your kind feedback. It feels great to know that my posts actually help people.

  • Tyler Meredith

    I really like the advice on how to brush teeth with braces. My son will be getting braces in a few weeks, and with no experience with orthodontics I don’t know I can help him. I think that proper, effective brushing is always important, so I’ll definitely have to share these tips with him! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Hello, Tyler Meredith!

      I’m very happy to help your son with our advice. You’re right, proper flossing and brushing the teeth with braces is very important. Keep yours and your son’s teeth clean and healthy!

  • Charles Kemp

    Brushing your teeth when you have braces can be tough because there is less surface area that you can get with your brush. I will have to try the electric brushes because that could help loosen the food in the braces. I know that you definitely can’t skip on the flossing.

    • Susan

      Hi Charles! You are absolutely right.

      You reach less of your teeth than when you were without braces. But, you have more nooks and crannies in there that really need really good brushes. Electric brushes help lots of people.
      And you most definitely need to floss. Food particles get stuck easily and floss is the best tool for the job!

  • Hazel Adams

    I think that it is important to brush your teeth frequently. I also think that it is important to be able to get the inbetween parts of the brackets when you are brushing braces. This is really useful information on how to do that.

    • Susan

      Hi Hazel! Thank you for the compliment!

      We feel brushing often and taking good care of your teeth are the keys to keeping your teeth in good condition all your life.

      We know it’s hard to get in that habit and we’re working on more articles on helping you to do just that! So, stick around for more!

      • Hazel Adams

        I find these very useful. I am excited to read your new articles you have as well. That way I can keep my teeth healthy all of my life.

  • April Cook

    I didn’t know that there were orthodontic brushes that were made specifically for brushing braces. I will have to get one of those for my sister when she gets her braces next month. I also like your tip to use mouthwash. I think that would be really helpful to get out anything that you might miss. Thanks for all this great information!

    • Hey, April!

      Yes, there are specialty brushes for just about everything. Before you go and grab the brush, we recommend talking to your sister’s dentist. See what they recommend. Some of the brushes work better for some types of braces and mouths.

      Also, talk to your sister. Is this something she wants to do? Depending on how often and where she brushes her teeth, she may need several brushes. As for mouthwash, this can depend on many things. Some mouthwashes are harsh and can really sting when you wear braces. Some are unadvised with braces because they are too harsh.

      Some of the more moderate ones may contain chemicals, like peroxide, that should not be used with some braces, as well. This is another topic to bring up to your dentist before trying. This way, you’ll know exactly what to use and how to use it.

      Congrats on thinking about your sister and offering to help her in her journey. Your support can make this whole process much better for her.

      Thank you!

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