Braces! How to Keep a Healthy Smile Through the Wires

Brushing Properly With Braces

When you have braces, brushing effectively is about angles: For teeth with brackets on them, you'll be doing a lot of the work holding the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the tooth.

Most dentists recommend this multistage brushing process targeted at the three tooth surfaces: front, back and biting:

  1. Pick a single tooth, and start with the front. For a top tooth, with the brush head at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and positioned between the gum and the bracket, brush gently in tiny circles.
  2. Next, hold the brush head at an angle below the bracket, and work the bristles toward the gum in circles.
  3. Finally, brush normally (head-on) across the face of the tooth, moving the brush in tiny circles over the front of the bracket.

Repeat this process for all teeth, one at a time. When you finish the fronts, move to the backs of the teeth. You'll finish by brushing the biting surfaces of the teeth the way you did before braces.

This whole process will probably take about 10 minutes. If you didn't floss beforehand, you'll floss now. It's also a good idea to use a fluoride mouthwash as a finishing touch, which will remove any lingering particles and help to strengthen your teeth.

While brushing and flossing are mainstays of oral hygiene with braces, there is a third one: What you eat (or, more accurately, what you don't) ...

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