How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces: A Guide to Keeping Your Braces Clean

Red toothbrush against blue background

Getting a new pair of braces is guaranteed to change up some of your daily routines.

On top of changing your diet to better accommodate your newfound dental appliances, you’re going to have to change the way you brush your teeth.

This isn’t a complete overhaul. Just a tweak to make sure you’re getting to those new hard to reach places that your new brace might now be obstructing.

So, to help you get into your new routine, we’ve put together this easy guide to help make cleaning your teeth with braces a whole lot easier.

When Should I Brush My Teeth with Braces?

Much like without braces, we recommend that you clean your teeth after every meal or snack. We’re sorry to say that the usual recommendation of twice a day is just not enough. By brushing them this frequently, you can help prevent plaque from building up between the small spaces between your teeth and braces.

What Brush Should I Use?

A regular toothbrush will do just fine. However, to make cleaning quicker and easier, you could always opt for an electric or sonic toothbrush designed to handle cleaning around braces.

When using a typical toothbrush, make sure to angle it both slightly upwards and downwards to clean those hard-to-reach areas above and below the brace.

If you do decide to go for an electric option, please bear in mind that the bristles on your brush will wear down faster than you’ll be used to as they tend to get caught in your braces.

We also recommend that you use an interdental brush with an angled head and brush. Just make sure the one you choose can fit around your braces, as many are designed without them in mind.

Brushing the Outer Side of Your Teeth

When cleaning your teeth with braces, focus on the outer side first. This is simply the “front” of your teeth, and is what people see when you smile. From here, move on to the rest of your teeth. Below we have listed out the order in which you should do it, so that you make sure you cover every single area.

  • Begin by cleaning the outside of both your lower and upper teeth. Bite down and rub your toothbrush in circular motions all around your teeth and braces, gradually moving from your front to your side. Make sure to reach far back to your molars and wisdom teeth (if you still have them, of course). If you are struggling to go that far back, you can open your mouth slightly to help.
  • Remember to point your toothbrush up (on upper teeth) and down (on lower teeth) so that it can remove the plaque between when your teeth meets your gums. This is an area that can sometimes be neglected, and is a place where plaque can thrive.
  • Using the same angled technique above, start to clean the brackets on the outer side of your teeth. Use the same circular motion and dedicate around 20 – 30 seconds cleaning each and every bracket. Remember to pay close attention to the out of sight “tops” and “bottom” of the brackets.
  • Optional: Use interdental brushes to clean the small gaps between your brackets and your teeth. Simply run them back and forth between these small gaps until you’re sure they’ve dislodged anything that might be hiding there.

Brushing the Inner Side and Top of Your Teeth

Now it’s time to move onto the inner part of your mouth. Much like the steps listed above, you will need to use circular motions to reach all parts of your teeth and braces.

You’ll find that it’s easier to brush the inside of your teeth, as they won’t be obstructed by your braces.

Just remember to use circular motions, and then point your brush towards your gums to reach the plaque that is just out of sight.

Once you’ve cleaned the inside, begin to use the same circular motion technique on the tops of your teeth (otherwise knowns as the chewing surfaces).

What Happens If You Don’t Brush with Braces?

Braces, by their very design, can trap tiny pieces of food, bacteria and plaque in between the appliance and your teeth. Failure to clean these from your teeth and braces can demineralize the enamel around the brackets and form cavities.

It can also bring about gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.

If you wear invisible aligners, and want to know more about keeping them clean, then check out our article on How to Clean and Care for Your Invisible Aligners.

At Hampstead Orthodontic Practice, our team of orthodontic experts can help determine the best treatment for you. If you’re considering braces, get in contact with us for a free orthodontic consultation online today.

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