It is very important that you brush your teeth after every meal (about 3 min per session), in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy while wearing braces. You will continue to see you dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups, every 3-6 months. Your gums are essential to oral hygiene as well. The reason for good toothbrushing is not only to remove the food left after eating, but to get rid of the plaque. Plaque is the colorless sticky film of food, bacteria and saliva that is always forming on the teeth, causing decay and gum disease if left un-brushed.

There are all kinds of toothbrushes, toothpastes and brushing techniques, but the following is one method we recommend:

  1. Use a SOFT toothbrush (manual or electrical) and a fluoridated tooth paste (with American Dental Association’s ADA seal) to gently scrub all surfaces of the teeth.
  2. Begin brushing the outside surfaces of all teeth by placing the brush AT THE GUMLINE and move in SLOW CIRCULAR MOTION. Pay special attention to the area between the braces, bands and the gum. This is where the trouble starts, with decay and swollen gums developing if the plaque is not removed!
  3. Brush the inside and brush the chewing surfaces of all teeth in the same scrubbing circular motion.
  4. Look closely in a mirror to make sure all your teeth and braces, bands, hooks, ties and appliances sparkle (regardless if they are attached on the outside or the inside surfaces of your teeth, brush them all).

Electric toothbrushes can do a great job but remember: it’s not the kind of brush you use, it’s how well (thorough clean of ALL surfaces), how long (3 minutes/brushing session) and how often (3-4 times/day) you use it! To make sure you get all the plaque you may use disclosing tablets or solutions that will stain any remaining un-brushed plaque. This way, you can see where to go back with your toothbrush to get it all!


It’s important to floss with braces to prevent excess food particles from getting stuck between teeth and brackets/wires. To floss effectively with braces, insert floss behind arch wire. Gently clean sides of teeth and under gums with an up-and-down motion. Floss between all teeth once a day. Flossing can be done with the help of a floss threader, Superfloss or using a Waterpick or other oral irrigators/electric flosser devices to get this tedious but extremely important chore done.


Frequent use of supplemental OTC fluoride rinses (ACT mouthwash or Colgate Phos Flur rinse) will help prevent white or brown spots or demineralization surface lesions of the enamel due to un-brushed plaque and poor oral hygiene while in braces.


Braces are attached to your teeth with a strong adhesive but may become loose as a result of eating certain foods. It is also possible that wires could become bent or broken without proper care. Since it is best to achieve orthodontic treatment goals with as few disruptions as possible, a well-balanced diet is important to ensure a healthy environment for your teeth.

Patients should avoid foods that are sticky, hard or chewy. They should also avoid any food and drinks that are known to cause cavities. Patients should brush, floss and rinse their mouth regularly between meals.

The foods below are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances and are examples of what NOT to eat: gum, beef jerky, nuts, hard or sticky candy, corn chips, crisp taco shells, whole apples, celery, caramel, taffy, popcorn, soft drinks & candy bars.

Eating restricted foods may cause problems which will result in extra visits for repairs and will ultimately extend the length of treatment. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy these restricted foods after completing your treatment. Any specific questions about food choices should be directed to your orthodontist and staff. Patients should see their general dentist regularly while wearing braces.

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