Flossing your teeth is a great way to keep them clean and healthy. If you do it right, it can help you get rid of bad oral health and many diseases that are related to it.
The key to good oral health is to floss the right way. Flossing is even harder to do when you have braces. The process is tricky, but you can do it successfully if you follow these simple steps:
Why is it so important to floss?
You might wonder how a small piece of floss can help your teeth so much. But flossing will surprise you with how well it works. No matter how well you brush your teeth, a toothbrush can’t reach everywhere that floss can.
When you brush and floss, you get rid of food and bacteria that can cause cavities and stains. It also helps prevent gum disease and other oral health problems that can be a problem later in life. Daily, you should brush at least twice and floss once.
How to Floss If You Have Braces
At first, it is hard to floss when you have braces. But if you are patient, you’ll soon get the hang of it and be a pro. Flossing also takes time, but if you ask us, it’s well worth it!
Just do what we say.
- Step 1: You should brush your teeth to get rid of bacteria, food, and plaque. Make sure your toothbrush gets to all of your teeth’s surfaces (outer surface, inner surface and flat surfaces of your top and bottom arch).
- Step 2: Take a piece of floss about 20 cm long and wrap the ends tightly around your index finger. (We use superfloss because it has a thick, sponge-like part that really cleans well.)
- Step 3: Align the floss with the space between your teeth and thread it between your teeth and the wire.
- Step 4: Move the floss between the teeth, along the sides of each tooth, and into the gum tissue that can move to get rid of any food particles and plaque that have built up.
- Step 5: After flossing each tooth, wrap the used floss around your finger so you don’t put germs back into your mouth.
- Step 6: Move to the next tooth and do the same thing again.
There are 4 different ways to floss with braces.
Now that you know why it’s important to floss when you have braces, let’s talk about four flossing tools that will make it easy, quick, and effective.
We’re glad to hear that you were flossing once a day before you got braces. But now that you have braces, you may find that you need to floss a few more times a day. If you weren’t using waxed dental floss before, you should start.
When you have braces, waxed floss is better than unwaxed floss because unwaxed floss can break into small pieces that can get stuck in your teeth and appliance.
There are many different kinds of waxed dental floss, so take the time to find one that works for you, feels good, and is easy to use. Some have mint flavors that make your breath fresh or fruit flavors that taste good.
If you just started flossing and it hurts or makes you bleed, your team at The Brace Place might suggest starting with dental tape until your teeth get used to being flossed.
Dental tape, also called ribbon tape, is wider and flatter than dental floss. It can be easier on teeth that aren’t used to being flossed. It can also be easier to work with dental tape.
Oral-B also makes Superfloss, which has three types of floss in one: a stiff floss that makes it easier to get behind your appliance and clean under it, traditional floss that cleans between teeth and along the gumline, and a wide, spongey section that is made for cleaning around brackets and wires.
Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to floss with dental floss when you have braces:
- Take a piece of floss that is 18″ long.
- Put one end of the floss through the wire and between your teeth.
- Pull the floss through and wrap the ends around your index fingers.
- To get the floss between your teeth, press down firmly but not too hard. Holding the floss in a “C” shape, floss under each tooth’s gumline and along the sides of each tooth.
- Take the floss out and repeat steps 2 through 4 for the next tooth.
- Repeat until you’re done!
Use a Floss Threader with Dental Floss
If it seems hard to get your dental floss between your wires and teeth, a floss threader can help you get it in the right place.
A floss threader is a small, thin, flexible piece of plastic with a large loop at the end of a handle. To use it, put dental floss through the loop and tie it on if you want.
Put the floss threader’s handle in the space between your wire and your teeth. Pull the floss threader through that space until it goes all the way through.
Your dental floss is now between your wire and teeth. As usual, floss between your teeth and along the sides. Get the floss out. Repeat this for the rest of your teeth until you’re done.
We promise that this flossing tool makes it easy to learn how to floss with braces. A dental flosser is a small tool made of plastic that has two narrow arms with floss tightly wound between them and a handle for moving the floss.
This handy tool makes it easy and quick to get floss behind your archwires. Orthodontic flossers also get rid of the need to wrap dental floss around your fingers.
With an orthodontic flosser, you hold the plastic handle and place the floss between your teeth and along the gumline where you want to clean.
Slide the floss between your teeth and use a “C” motion to reach the gumline at the base of each tooth. Do this for each tooth. Now, we should mention that most orthodontic flossers are one-time use only.
If you want a more eco-friendly option, you can find handles for orthodontic flossers that can be used more than once. You have to put floss on them yourself before each time you floss.
Orthodontic flossers are a great way to floss while on the go. Keep some in your bag, car, or backpack so you can floss your teeth quickly and easily when you’re not at home.
Waterpik Water Flosser
Using a water flosser is a very different and thorough way to clean between teeth and around braces. There’s a reason why dentists and orthodontists aim a jet of water at teeth and braces to clean them.
One of the best ways to floss if you have braces is to use a water flosser. This is in addition to brushing and flossing with dental floss every day.
A water flosser like the Waterpik® sprays a strong, steady stream of water that gets rid of sugars, food particles, and plaque that have built up between teeth, along the gumline, and around brackets and archwires.
In fact, one study found that people who used a Waterpik® as part of their oral hygiene routine had less plaque on their teeth than those who only used dental floss.
It’s easy and refreshing to use a WaterPik® to clean your braces and teeth:
- Fill the water tank with warm water, and then put the flosser tip on the handle of the water flosser.
- Lean over the sink and close your mouth around the flosser just a little bit.
- Start by putting your water flosser on low pressure. Once you’re going, you can turn up the pressure.
- Turn it on and aim the spray at your gums, starting at the back of your mouth and moving forward. Spray water along the outer and inner gumline to make sure you spray around the base of each tooth, and make sure to spray right at your braces brackets.
- Move on to the next tooth and keep doing this until you’ve flossed every tooth in your mouth with water.
Many Waterpik® brand water flosser kits come with a special orthodontic tip for cleaning around braces. However, the regular tip works just as well.
In addition to floss, a toothbrush, and mouthwash, you can add other orthodontic tools to your toolkit for cleaning your teeth when you have braces.
These tools make it even easier to keep a healthy smile when you have braces. Accessories like interdental picks or a mouthguard for braces can help you take better care of your teeth.
How to Floss When You Have a Permanent Retainer
After your braces are taken off, Dr. Patel will give you a retainer to help keep your new smile. Retainers are a common type of after-care device, and they can be taken out or left in. If you have a retainer that you can take out, flossing is the same as it was before you got braces.
To floss, just take out your retainer. But if you have a permanent retainer, flossing is similar to how it is when you have braces.
A permanent retainer is a thin wire that is permanently glued to the back of your teeth (called the lingual side). Only your orthodontist can take it off. Your wire will either be a single thin wire or a thicker, twisted wire that is bonded to each tooth or just to the ends.
Permanent retainers are usually only used on the front four to six teeth between the two canine teeth, and only on the lower teeth. When you have a permanent retainer, flossing well is a lot like flossing when you have braces:
- Using dental floss and a floss threader, move the threader from below the wire (near the gums) up and over the wire until it is free of the wire.
- Use floss to clean between the teeth and along the gum line.
- If your wire is only attached to two teeth (one on each end), floss from tooth to tooth, going from one side to the other.
- If there is bonding on each tooth, use the floss threader again to get the floss in the right place and floss around each tooth.
Because of where the bonding is on your permanent retainer, it can be hard to get a floss threader from under the wire.
If this is the case, a second way to floss with a permanent retainer is to move the floss threader with the dental floss attached from the front of your teeth to the back (lingual) side.
In either case, it’s easy to learn how to floss with a permanent retainer because you already know how to floss with braces.
FAQ: How To Floss Teeth With Braces
Is flossing more important for people who wear braces?
Yes, having braces means there are a lot more places where food can get stuck, which makes bacteria grow. Acids are made by the bacteria, which also make plaque. The best way to get rid of as much bacteria as possible from your teeth is to brush and floss them well.
Why does it hurt to floss?
If you haven’t flossed often, flossing may hurt your gums. If that’s the case, just keep flossing every day and your gums will calm down.
Should I avoid getting the floss near my gums?
You should use floss along your gum line, but you need to be careful. If you pull the floss into the gums too hard, you could get a cut. Gently floss by wrapping the floss around the tooth’s base (in a C shape) so that it can get into the tooth’s pocket without hurting it.
You can floss before you brush.
You can use floss to help get food out from between your teeth or braces. Most people like to floss after they brush their teeth, but you can do it either way. No matter what order you do things in, the most important thing is that you floss.
Should I floss my teeth every day?
Plaque only needs 24 to 36 hours to get hard on teeth. If you floss every 24 hours, plaque doesn’t have time to get hard. Plaque that has hardened can hold more bacteria in the mouth, which can cause cavities.
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