One of the biggest challenges to keeping your smile looking and feeling its best is to take the time every day to brush and floss your teeth (which also benefits your gum health). When you receive orthodontic care, you will want to step up your oral hygiene game to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy when your braces come off. It means brushing and flossing become even more tooth-protecting habits than ever. Flossing, in particular, is essential because your toothbrush can’t do the job.
Flossing, or interdental cleaning, removes the harmful dental plaque that builds up around the teeth and gum line. Plaque, or biofilm, is a bacterial film that attacks tooth enamel and gum tissue. And while toothbrushing does a great job cleaning tooth surfaces, it can’t squeeze into the areas between teeth. It takes a flossing tool to clear out those tight places where the teeth meet and along the gum line. When wearing braces, you need to be able to get in there and clear out the harmful bacteria every single day if you want to avoid preventable dental issues.
What Happens When Plaque Lingers Between Teeth
- Dental plaque not removed daily quickly hardens, turning into tartar, which will need to be removed by a hygienist using tartar removing tools.
- Lingering plaque and tartar target your gums, inflaming them, so they hurt. The good news is that catching gum disease in the beginning stage is removable, but not so with advanced periodontitis.
- Dental caries or cavities crop up when tartar makes holes in your tooth enamel. When this happens, you can find yourself with toothache pain or infection with diseased gums and teeth that may need an extraction or a root canal to save it.
- Chronic oral health problems have been directly linked to general health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Flossing Around Braces
If you wear clear aligners to straighten your teeth, you can remove them to thoroughly brush and floss, removing dental plaque. With braces, you have to be a little more dedicated. Remember, the key is finding a flossing method you like using to motivate you to floss your braces consistently.
- Waxed or unwaxed string floss: Pull out the amount you need, wrap it around your index fingers and then glide it between your teeth and braces parts to lift oral bacteria and food particles. Throw away when done.
- Dental picks: The floss comes pre-attached to a plastic holder, so you slide it gently between teeth and braces hardware to get rid of oral debris. Toss it after using.
- Interdental brush: These tiny toothbrushes are ideal if you have small gaps between your teeth or braces that you can clean.
- Water flossers: These oral irrigators come with tips that you can aim a water stream between teeth and your orthodontic appliance. It allows for a more precise cleaning while protecting your braces. Begin at the back of your mouth where the molars sit. Next, follow your gum line to clean each tooth. A good rule of thumb to follow is to aim the stream over each tooth for two seconds.
American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance
Finding your favorite flossing tool can help you achieve healthier teeth and gums with a beautiful smile. Look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance to check the product for safety and effectiveness. These safety and performance tested products pass strict inspections to help ensure you get your wanted results. If you are investing in braces to get your teeth straightened, shoot for a goal of decay-free teeth and disease-free gums!