Flossing is essential to your dental hygiene routine, with or without braces. Flossing helps prevent gum disease, tooth decay and other issues that can come from food and bacteria buildup.
How do you floss with braces? You can floss with braces in many ways, such as using traditional floss, a Waterpik, floss threaders and dental tape. Below, we’ll go over the importance of flossing and the different methods you can try at home.
The importance of flossing with braces
Flossing removes food debris and plaque your toothbrush can’t dislodge. As a result, it prevents gum disease and tooth decay, which can lead to serious, irreversible oral health issues. Though it can take a bit longer to work around the brackets when you floss with braces, it’s essential for your dental health.
Flossing with braces helps:
- Prevent damage to your braces: Braces are part of a comprehensive treatment plan that takes time to straighten and correct your teeth. Flossing helps prevent sugar and excess bacteria from degrading the adhesive that bonds your braces to your teeth, allowing them to hold up over time and deliver the results you want to see.
- Prevent tooth decay: Your braces will affect where your toothbrush can reach, meaning the food you eat and excess bacteria can get lodged in places it wasn’t able to before you had braces. Flossing helps you get into these spaces to prevent potential tooth decay, which is essential for your overall dental health.
- Prevent gum disease: Flossing helps prevent gum disease. Braces can make gum disease more likely if you don’t brush or floss correctly or regularly. Gum disease can cause numerous uncomfortable or painful symptoms, so it’s essential to take extra care when you have braces to floss.
You’ll have to take a little more time to floss each day with braces. Ensure you’re flossing between each bracket and taking the time to remove food debris and bacteria. Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to improve the longevity of your braces and treatment results.
1. Traditional floss
Traditional floss is a piece of waxed nylon you can use to get between your teeth and braces. Using conventional floss or floss picks around your braces can be challenging since it can take more time and care. If you’re using a traditional method, account for about 15 minutes each time you floss to ensure you can do so thoroughly and properly.
To start, get a piece of floss around 6 inches long. Wrap the floss around your index fingers and floss between your teeth and the main wires of your braces. You’ll want to push the floss between your teeth and use a back-and-forth motion to slide along the sides. You can use a mirror to ensure you’re reaching every spot.
Gently remove the floss and unthread it from the wires, taking care not to pop the floss out of the teeth, as it can knock the wires from your brackets. Repeat until you’ve flossed all of your teeth.
A Waterpik uses water pressure to clean the teeth and gums. It’s an efficient way to clean and floss your teeth and gums, especially if you have braces, as the water stream can be gentler than traditional floss. Since the Waterpik is more efficient, you only need about three to five minutes in the morning and at night to complete the routine.
Start by filling the Waterpik’s reservoir with water. You can then insert the water flosser tip and press the button to begin sending water through. Check to ensure the water pressure works for you and the device correctly. Next, you’ll want to lean over the sink and place the device’s tip in your mouth.
You can close your lips while the flosser is in your mouth to prevent water from splashing, but make sure you let the water drain as you’re flossing. Let the water glide along your gum line and around each tooth. Ensure you’re targeting your brackets, too, to get any food buildup or bacteria.
3. Floss threaders
A floss threader is a small plastic tool that allows you to pull the floss behind the wires of your braces for a complete clean. You can save a lot of time by using a floss threader, and they’re easy to find at supermarkets and drug stores. After you get your braces, your orthodontist may give you a few floss threaders, so you can see how you like them before purchasing more.
Take a 12-inch thread of floss, placing about 5 inches through the eye of the threader. Insert the pointed end of the threader through your brace wires and pull the floss through. Hold the floss with your index fingers. Then, floss as you would normally with just a piece of traditional floss, using a back-and-forth motion between your teeth.
Be gentle when removing the floss between your teeth, carefully pulling it from behind the wire. Once you finish one pair of teeth, move on to the next, rethreading the floss threader and repeating the steps.
4. Dental tape
Another way to floss with braces includes using dental tape, which is an ideal method for individuals who experience pain when flossing. If you’re not used to flossing, even before getting braces, your gums can be more sensitive, leading to bleeding or discomfort. However, flossing is still essential, and dental tape is a good way to introduce yourself to it.
Dental tape is a thin floss that feels smooth and soft, helping it easily glide across and between your teeth. After you use dental tape for a while, your gums will start to get used to flossing and won’t become inflamed or bleed. Eventually, you should be able to switch to other flossing methods.
Have questions about how to care for your braces?
If you just got braces or are looking to get braces in the future, Fredericksburg Orthodontics can help you answer questions about caring for your braces. Dr. Mari Arroyo-Pratt and Dr. Diana Almy are expert orthodontists with years of experience under their belts, and they can help guide you through the process of having braces and what your home care should look like.