Braces are an amazing way to create healthy, beautiful smiles. They correct overbites, underbites, crooked or crowded teeth, jaw position, and disorders of the jaw. Unfortunately, braces also make it harder to floss and care for your teeth.
It takes extra time and effort, but it is possible to keep your mouth looking and feeling healthy and clean when you have braces.
Why Flossing Is Important When You’re Wearing Braces
Bacteria love all of the dark nooks and crannies in your mouth. It settles in, hides out, and if left long enough, it creates plaque in those areas. If plaque isn’t cleaned away, tooth decay and gum disease develop.
When you have braces, the brackets on your teeth trap food particles, and the wires get in the way of brushing and flossing. It’s more difficult to clean the hard to reach places, so people with braces are more likely to get cavities and gingivitis.
Here’s why you should take extra care to floss daily with braces:
- Prevents swollen and bleeding gums.
- Decreases chances of tooth decay, gum disease, and white spots forming around the brackets.
- Makes your teeth and gums healthy and ready for the world when your braces are removed.
- How to Floss with Braces
What you need:
- Waxed floss – Unwaxed floss tends to get caught and shred in braces.
- Floss threader – Helps floss slip between each tooth without catching.
- Time – About three times more than you’d spend on your teeth without braces.
- Carefully loop a piece of 18-inch floss through the threader. Use the stiff end of the threader to direct the floss under the wire. Once the floss is under the wire, gently slide the floss along the side and up into the gum line of each tooth. Remove the floss and re-thread it under the main wire to pass between the next pair of teeth.
A Quick Note About Young Children with Braces
Young children with braces shouldn’t be expected to floss on their own. They need help from a parent or guardian. Sit them down in a well-lit room with some music or a TV show and floss teeth as instructed above.
Flossing Is Important, however It’s Not the Only Thing!
Flossing is important, but how you brush and what you eat are also important when you have braces. Brush longer and more frequently. To remove all of the plaque and bacteria, you should brush your teeth three times a day. Because there are more places for the plaque and bacteria to hide, you should also brush for two to four minutes each time. The quality of your brushing is most important: be sure to brush all around the brackets, between teeth, and along the gum line. Choose teeth-healthy foods. Avoid sugary foods and beverages like soda, sweets, and other desserts.
Avoid foods that can damage your braces. Foods that are hard or sticky can cause damage. Avoid foods that can get stuck in your braces like hard candies, gum, ice, licorice, nuts, beef jerky, and hard, crusty bread.