How To Floss With Braces | Methods to Keep Your Teeth Clean

You've just had braces put on, and you're on your way to a straight, healthy smile.

While you're wearing your braces, it's as important as ever to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

And even though it might be a little harder and a little different than usual, flossing while you have braces is vitally important.

Flossing between your teeth scrubs the hard to reach places that your brush can miss, especially with brackets in your way.

You should floss between each tooth at least once a day, and use a small brush to clean around the brackets and under the wires.

Below are several methods you can use to floss while you have your braces.

You shouldn't skip flossing even if it does take longer with braces. You'll appreciate your hard work in the future.

The methods below could make flossing for you easier and faster, so test and try them out until you find what works for you.

General Guidelines to Keep Your Teeth Healthy with Braces

Before we get started, let's go over some general guidelines you should follow to keep your teeth healthy with braces.

  • Regular cleanings. Your dental hygienist can deep clean around the brackets and hardware and help prevent staining from your braces. Consider scheduling a cleaning every three months.
  • Don't Use Whitening Toothpaste. This might seem like a good idea, but brushing with whitening toothpaste could create problems for your braces later on. Whitening products can’t get under the brackets, so only exposed areas of your teeth will be whitened. Once your braces are removed, the area under your brackets could be a different shade than the rest.
  • Use An Electric Toothbrush. You get better results with less effort when you use an electric toothbrush. They are going to be more expensive than a regular toothbrush, but your dentist may have a voucher or coupon you can use to purchase one.

Okay, now onto the different methods to use while flossing.

Traditional Method

This is the method that has been used for generations. You grab some floss and get to work going between each tooth.

It's an excellent way to clean food and plaque from between your teeth, but if you have braces, it can get tricky.

Since you have your braces to work around, you need to allow yourself at least 15 minutes to get this done.

Be sure to used waxed floss, because the unwaxed floss can break and get stuck in your braces.

The Steps:

  • Use an 18- to 24-inch piece of floss.
  • Thread the floss between the main wire and your teeth. Do this in front of a mirror so you can see where you're going.
  • To make life easier, wrap the floss around your index fingers.
  • Press the floss between two teeth, and slide the floss up and down along the sides of both teeth. 
  • Remove the floss and unthread it from behind the wire. Be careful not accidentally to pop the wire out of the bracket.
  • Repeat the process.

Floss Threader

If you want to speed up the traditional process, use a floss threader.

A floss threader is an inexpensive tool that will help you easily pull floss behind the wires of your braces.

Ask your orthodontist if he has a sample threader you can use to try out.

If you like it, you can find floss threaders in drug stores, big box stores, and supermarkets.

The Steps:

  • Pull an 18- to 24-inch piece of waxed floss through the eye of the threader.
  • Insert the point of the needle under the wire of your braces.
  • Gently pull the floss through the wire. Hold the floss threader in one hand.
  • Wrap the floss around your index fingers. 
  • Gently press the floss between your teeth, and slide it up and down along the sides of both teeth. 
  • Gently pull the floss out from between the teeth, and pull the floss out from behind the wire.
  • Rethread the floss threader, and repeat the process.

Waterpik

A Waterpik uses a steady stream of water to clean between your teeth and along your gumline.

Because of how efficient they are, you only need about five minutes to floss with a Waterpik.

You may even be able to get a special tip for your Waterpik designed especially for braces.

These tips will be tapered to clean around the brackets and between your teeth easier than using a standard tip.

The Steps:

  • Fill the reservoir with water. For an added bonus, add mouthwash instead of water.
  • Press to send water through the flosser to make sure it’s working correctly and that the water pressure is strong enough for you.
  • Lean over your sink and place the tip of the flosser in your mouth.
  • Turn it on. Close your lips to keep water from splashing out of your mouth.
  • Allow the water to drain out of your mouth while you’re flossing.
  • Glide the water stream along the gumline and between each tooth.
  • Empty the reservoir of water, and dry the flosser tip. Store in a closed container to protect the tip.

Dental Tape

If you've never flossed before, dental tape may be best for you.

For some people, traditional flossing is painful and uncomfortable. 

If your gums are unhealthy, to begin with, flossing them can make them bleed and feel swollen when you first start.

Over time the gums will become healthier, and lead to less pain.

Until then, use dental tape to floss. Dental tape is ultrathin floss that is smooth and spongy.

It's thinner than traditional floss and wider, like a ribbon, allowing it to glide between your teeth easier.

Follow the steps in the traditional method when using dental tape.

Start Flossing

Having braces will help create a healthy and confident smile while reducing your risk of oral problems in the future at the same time.

Taking care of your teeth while you have braces is vital for many reasons, and it all starts with flossing.

Flossing will help remove bacteria that stains your teeth and leads to cavities.

Flossing will help prevent gingivitis and other oral health problems that will cause problems later in life.

Don't stop flossing just because you have braces.

Use the methods above to ensure you keep your teeth healthy while you wear your braces. 

You'll thank yourself in the future.

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