Toothbrush Tips

Braces, Brackets and Brushing: What You Need to Know

Your dentist has suggested braces and maybe you have a consultation with the orthodontist. There are some things you need to know and about brushing with braces and some changes you’ll have to make to accommodate this change in your life, and it is a change. Whether it’s you getting braces as an adult, or your child getting an early start on a great smile, one of the biggest changes and challenges will be oral health care for the next several months or years. We want to help you any way we can and have put together this list of brushing tips for you.

We’ve been brushing our teeth for years now, we’re pros at it right? How different can it possibly be with braces? The answer is very, but don’t get discouraged, after a couple of weeks, you won’t even have to think about it anymore, it will just be routine.

Traditional or Electronic Toothbrushes for your Braces

Before we talk about the actual brushing, you need to decide if you want to stick with a traditional toothbrush, or if it’s time to invest in a good quality electronic one. There are many on the market today, from the ever popular Sonicare to Oral-B Pro to Quip. Each of them has pros and cons in relation to each other. It never hurts to read up on our most recent electric toothbrush reviews before discussing with your provider as technology is always changing and evolving.

Many patients opt to use both traditional and electronic depending on what their day looks like. It is recommended that you brush as quickly as possible after eating which means that electronic toothbrush might not always be available. It is very easy to tuck a portable toothbrush and travel toothpaste in your purse or backpack to have handy after school lunch or that last minute office luncheon.

Whatever you decide, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a new toothbrush to accommodate your braces. A smaller head can make getting to all those new, and hard to reach places a bit easier. Not only will you have to brush the gum line, but you will have the areas around the brackets and behind the wire to get to, and a smaller head usually means more maneuverability. Once you decide on head size, it’s time to consider the bristles on your toothbrush. Most dentists recommend a soft bristle with braces because you’re going to be brushing more often and it will take longer as well. A soft bristle will be gentler on the tooth enamel and gums during this transition time.

Basics of Brushing with Braces

Now that you’ve chosen your toothbrush and bristle, it’s time to learn about brushing with braces. Before we get into the actual nuts and bolts of it, I want to remind you, don’t get frustrated. Braces are a significant change, and oral health care is a part of that, it will get easier. If you feel like you just aren’t getting it, or something doesn’t feel right, call your dental provider, they’ll be able to help you.

We all know about routine oral care, but we’re going to incorporate the basics in with the additional steps for braces, so you have it all together in one place. Begin by brushing your top teeth, both inside and out at a 45-degree angle to ensure you get any plaque or debris off the gum line. Now you can do the crowns of your teeth, to finish off the routine brushing you’re probably used to.

Now focusing only on the outside of the teeth only, you are going to bring your toothbrush down about a quarter of an inch to just under the brackets. Still at the 45-degree angle, brush the bottom of the brackets catching the under part of the wire. Once you’re done with the upward 45-degree angle, you’ll reposition the toothbrush to a downward facing 45-degree angle and move to the top of the brackets to get food debris from that angle. You’re almost done with the tops now, don’t give up. Reposition the toothbrush one more time so the bristles are facing directly at the brackets and brush all teeth again keeping just over the brackets and wire. Don’t worry if it takes you more than two minutes to brush; it might take five or ten just for the top until you get used to the new techniques.

Now that you are done with the top teeth go ahead and spit and rinse. You’ve earned it; you can even take a small break to exercise your jaw muscles if necessary. Once you’re ready to begin again, you’re going to brush your lower teeth, outside and in just like you did the tops. Finish the routine brushing by getting the crowns, and you’re now ready to start cleaning your lower brackets and wires. It is basically the same as the tops, just start with the downward facing 45-degree angle first, then move to the 45-degree angle up and finally straight onto the brackets and wires.

Closing Tips and Tricks for Brushing with Braces

There are a few additional things to remember with braces and brushing. The brackets may rub against the inside of your cheeks making them sore. Don’t let this keep you from brushing, we know it might be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.

You want to take a few extra minutes after finishing with your teeth to gently brush the other surfaces in your mouth. Brush the gums above and below your teeth, inside and out, to remove any remaining food debris or early plaque. Remember to brush up and down in small movements, from left to right, or right to left. Turn your toothbrush 180 degrees, so it faces your cheeks and again very gently, brush the cheek surfaces as well. Finally, don’t forget your tongue, it houses all kinds of bacteria and food debris.

As you can see, having braces will be a learning experience, but remember. It will be worth it, just look forward to the day those brackets are removed and imagine how great your smile is going to be!