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How to clean braces: Remove plaque and debris with ease

young girl brushing with braces in mirror and smiling - how to clean braces

Braces can be tricky to keep clean – here’s how to do it properly, according to a dentist

Straightening your teeth with braces is an investment in your smile. It takes time, care and maintenance to get the results you’re looking for. Part of this maintenance is keeping your braces clean.

You might be wondering whether to use an electric toothbrush or a manual one, or if there’s a special braces-cleaning-brush you need to invest in. You’ll be happy to hear that cleaning braces requires a little extra effort, but with the right techniques and tools, you can keep your braces sparkling clean and your oral health in tip-top shape. We spoke to a dentist about how best to care for your braces and teeth during treatment. Here’s a quick rundown of how to clean braces.

Step-by-step guide to cleaning braces

Whether you have metal braces or Invisalign, maintaining proper hygiene is essential. Here’s everything you need to know to ensure your braces stay clean, fresh and taken care of.

Dr Andrew Holly, from Holly Dental, says: “Cleaning braces is crucial for oral hygiene and to ensure the effectiveness of your orthodontic treatment, and to prevent further issues once your braces are removed.”

young girl with braces and glasses smiling - how to clean braces

Tools you’ll need

Before diving into the cleaning process, make sure you have all the necessary tools at hand, including:

  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Interdental brush or floss threader
  • Dental floss or orthodontic flossers
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Mouthwash (optional)

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Brushing and cleaning technique

Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen any food particles. Then, take a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush your teeth and braces at a 45-degree angle.

Pay close attention to the area where the braces meet your teeth, as plaque tends to accumulate there. Brush in small, circular motions, ensuring that you clean both the front and back surfaces of your teeth.

Dr Holly adds: “Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to gently brush around wires and pins. You can also consider interdental brushes. They are excellent for reaching the nooks around the braces.

“Floss daily with a floss threader to remove food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line. Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash to eliminate any lingering debris, and have regular check-ups with your orthodontist to keep your braces and teeth in top condition.

“If your budget is higher, you can invest in a water flosser which shoots blasts of water in between your teeth and gums, blasting away plaque and bacteria.”

Take care of your gums

The gumline is another area where plaque can accumulate, leading to gum inflammation and decay. Use your toothbrush to gently clean along the gumline, ensuring that you brush both above and below the wires of your braces. A fluoride toothpaste will help strengthen enamel and prevent cavities.

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Maintain regular dental check-ups

dentist checking braces with tools - how to clean braces

Even with careful at-home cleaning, it’s really important to schedule regular dental check-ups with your orthodontist. These appointments allow your orthodontist to monitor your progress, make any necessary adjustments to your braces and ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout treatment.

Consistency is key when it comes to cleaning braces. Make it a habit to brush and floss after every meal, as food particles can easily become trapped in your braces and lead to plaque buildup and tooth decay. Carry a travel-sized toothbrush and floss with you for on-the-go cleaning whenever needed, but leave at least 10 minutes between eating or drinking and brushing to help protect tooth enamel.

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