How to Floss with Braces: Top Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums
One of the earliest self-care regimens we learn as children is how to brush our teeth. From an early age, we’re taught that brushing is something we should do every morning when we wake up and every evening before we go to bed.
And while we all lose our baby teeth anyway, these habits form the foundation for better oral care as we age. Brushing twice each day is still a fundamental part of the best oral care routine - but it’s not the only thing you can do for your oral health and teeth.
Cleaning between your teeth and rinsing complement good brushing and can take your good oral care routine to a new level. These additional steps to enhance brushing are important - not just because your adult teeth are permanent, but because it's important to consider the mouth as an essential part of the rest of the body, because oral health and body health are linked.
Water flosser or oral irrigator
Water flossers (known in the dental profession as oral irrigators) use a stream of pulsating, pressurized water to remove food, plaque, and bacteria from between the teeth and around the gumline.
- Easier to use than traditional floss
- Gentler on sensitive gums
- Effective at removing food debris between teeth and from around the gumline
- Higher up-front cost
- The device takes up counter space and requires upkeep
- Debate on how effective it is at completely removing plaque when compared to traditional flossing
Floss threaders are aids for threading traditional dental floss behind wires in braces and other dental appliances. The threader itself consists of a small loop of plastic that meets to form a thin, elongated point. Floss is threaded through the loop, then the pointed end of the threader is inserted behind the wire and pulled through until the floss is in place for regular flossing.
- Easier to thread floss behind wires
- Excellent aid for individuals with reduced dexterity
- Creates an additional step for cleaning between each tooth
Dental tape is a broader, flat variety of floss.
- Works like traditional dental floss
- Better for individuals with wider gaps between their teeth
- Gentler on the gums
- Does not work as well for individuals with tightly spaced teeth
This isn’t exactly the same as flossing, but rather an alternative for interdental cleaning that many find preferable (especially those with braces).
Interdental brushes consist of a thin wire shaft covered in plastic bristles sized to fit between most teeth. This brush head is affixed to handles that vary in size from small enough for finger-tip gripping to a standard toothbrush handle. GUM SOFT-PICKS are another option in this category.
- Simple and enjoyable to use
- Can be easier to guide and maneuver around orthodontics
- May be used several times before needing to be replaced
- Modest learning curve for those who are unfamiliar
- Won’t always fit into extremely tight spaces
Flossing should not hurt. However, neglecting to floss regularly can lead to inflammation of the gums, and you may experience a bit of discomfort while flossing until your gums can heal. Tools like dental tape or a water pick can help through this healing process.
Gums can bleed during flossing for a couple of reasons. The first and easiest to manage is flossing too hard. The second major cause of bleeding gums is poor gum health. Regular flossing using a proper flossing technique can mitigate both of these issues. An interdental brush may also be preferred for those with sensitive gums.
It is best to clean interdentally before brushing your teeth, to remove lodged food and plaque from between teeth and within the gum line, allowing the fluoride from your toothpaste to reach more areas of your mouth.
Cleaning interdentally with braces is easy!
Regular flossing is an important part of dental hygiene, with or without braces. While the addition of wires and dental appliances changes the landscape of your teeth, there are tools and aids available to make it easy to keep up with your flossing.
Learn more about how to take care of your braces and orthodontics as part of a great oral care routine.