It is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy during and after orthodontic treatment. It is harder to keep your teeth clean with braces because food compacts in the brackets and between your teeth. Failure to brush and floss will result in plaque and bacteria build-up which causes tooth decay, permanent white scars on the teeth (decalcification), bad breath, swollen/bleeding gums, and can lead to gum disease. The best method for removing plaque is to brush after every meal, floss once a day, and use a fluoride mouth rinse before bedtime. This daily oral hygiene home care program takes time but it can also shorten the time you have to wear your braces and reduces the risk of developing white spots, cavities, and gum problems.
Dental Checkups and Cleanings
We recommend you maintain your regular six-month checkups and cleanings with your general dentist during orthodontic treatment. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may be required to visit the dentist more frequently for professional cleanings. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see their periodontist regularly during orthodontic treatment.
"White Spots" due to poor oral hygiene
- Brush after every meal (a minimum of four times per day; after breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed)
- Brush with a small amount of toothpaste on a soft toothbrush with firm pressure.
- Position the brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth; brush in small circles above and below the brackets and between the gums and braces to massage the gums and disrupt the bacteria. Use circular, vibrating motions around the gumline for about ten seconds on each tooth.
- Brush from the gumline to the tooth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
- Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.
- A Waterpik can be a useful addition but it cannot remove the sticky plaque that adheres to the teeth.
- An Interproximal toothbrush (proxy brush) is good for cleaning underneath the wires and between the braces.
Swollen gums / gingivitis due to poor oral hygiene
Floss nightly after brushing to remove the plaque missed by brushing. Carefully thread the floss between the wire and the braces and slide the floss between the teeth. A floss threader is a useful aid. Floss carefully around the tooth and the gums by moving the floss up and down gently underneath the gumline.
Fluoride Rinse Instructions
In general, Dr. Carcara recommends using ACT® Fluoride Rinse before bedtime after brushing and flossing. ACT Fluoride Rinse can be purchased at your local food store or pharmacy. Please follow the manufacturers instructions. *Please note: If Dr. Carcara or your general dentist has prescribed a different fluoride regimen for you, please follow the prescribed regimen.