Although brushing may be the focal point in your daily oral hygiene routine, flossing is just as essential. Flossing is critical for removing the bacteria and debris that your toothbrush can’t reach. Not flossing while having braces can cause several problems, such as plaque build-up, gum disease, and cavities. To prevent these health complications, the ADA recommends flossing your teeth before you go to bed and/or during midday.
We know flossing with braces isn’t necessarily an enjoyable task, so consider viewing flossing as a form of self care. Taking care of your mouth is self care after all; You just need to develop a routine that suits you best.
Here’s your complete guide to flossing with braces, because it doesn’t have to be complicated! No matter which method you choose, just be sure to floss regularly.
Always choose waxed floss over unwaxed floss during your orthodontic treatment! Using traditional unwaxed floss during treatment isn’t a good idea, because it can get caught between your braces, and we want to prevent that at all costs. You don’t want bits of unwaxed floss left between your wires or between your teeth.
To floss with wax floss, stand in front of a mirror and follow the steps:
- Cut a piece of floss that’s about 20 to 24 inches long.
- Thread the floss between the wire and your teeth, using your index and middle fingers.
- Press the floss between two teeth, then slide up and down on one side of the tooth to remove food particles.
- After you finish with one side, gently unthread the floss from the back of the wire. Repeat the process on each side of each tooth.
If you have sensitive gums, you will appreciate this method!
Some people don’t floss regularly because their sensitive gums may bleed or become swollen when using traditional floss. (These symptoms are usually a sign of unhealthy gums that require more flossing.)
Dental tape (ribbon tape) is a great option for anyone whose gums are on the sensitive side! Dental tape is a flat, broad and waxed floss. Its smooth surface allows the strand to glide between your teeth effortlessly, removing food particles stuck between your teeth.
When using dental tape, follow the same process as traditional flossing.
The floss threader is a flexible plastic tool used to aid your daily flossing routine. Its plastic material and design allows people to pull the floss thread behind the bracket wires to remove food particles between your brackets and teeth.
This tool can save you plenty of time, as you will be able to insert and remove the floss thread from your brackets easily. Here are the steps:
- Cut 12 to 18 inches of floss and insert the string through the loop of the floss threader
- Pass the floss threader under your dental appliance (braces or bridges)
- Remove the threader from your floss and start your daily flossing routine
- Move the floss back and forth between the teeth and gum line
- Repeat the process for each tooth
What Is The Best Floss For Braces?
While wearing braces, there are several flossing brands to consider.
There are patients who may go for the standard dental floss, while others prefer a more professional flosser like the Waterpik to avoid the hassle of manual threading. In either case, the objective is to practice interdental cleaning everyday to avoid cavity-susceptible teeth in the future.
The Waterpik is a flossing device that uses pressurized water to clean the teeth. If you’re looking for a device that will floss around brackets under minutes, then the Waterpik is for you.
Here’s how to use a Waterpik:
- Fill the machine’s basin with water (some Waterpik faucets will hook right into your bathroom faucet)
- Select a specialized tip and insert it into the handle— We can help you determine which tip is best for you!
- Select the pressure setting. The dial varies depending on the product; the pressure setting can be adjusted to low, medium, high, or a fixed number.
- Lean over the sink and place the Waterpik tip inside your mouth.
- Press the “On” button. Close your lips to prevent splashing.
- To achieve the best results, aim the tip at a 90-degree angle and pass it around your gum line from one tooth to the other. Be sure to take your time and do a thorough job!
- Tip: Use a pressure setting that feels comfortable and make sure the Waterpik you choose is ADA approved!
Can the Waterpik replace flossing with braces?
The answer is no. The Waterpik is not going to replace your traditional flossing procedure. Instead, it is an additional method to incorporate into your routine. Ideally, you should use both to optimize your results and leave your gums clean.
Flossing is so important, because your toothbrush can’t do the job alone! Food can hide in spaces that are hard to reach with your toothbrush. Toothbrush bristles don’t clean between each tooth; they’re meant to clean the surfaces of the teeth.
Committing to an effective oral hygiene routine and following these flossing tips can maximize your oral health and help you achieve the greatest results after your orthodontic treatment!
(If you are looking for an orthodontic treatment that you can remove while brushing, flossing, and eating, try Invisalign®!)
Our amazing doctors, Dr. Nease, Dr. Higginbotham, Dr. Thomas, and Dr. Horvath, offer the highest quality care in orthodontics. If you have any questions about your oral health during treatment, please don’t hesitate to ask us!