Life with Braces: The Importance of Consistent Oral Care

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Life with Braces: The Importance of Consistent Oral Care

Good oral hygiene is always important. But, it’s especially so when you have braces. Here, learn the why and how of maintaining your oral care routine when you’re living with braces.

Wearing metal or ceramic braces can be a challenge for your oral hygiene routine. Bits of food can easily get caught and trapped in the brackets and wires. Unfortunately, regular brushing and flossing techniques aren’t enough to get rid of them. So, plaque can develop and build up on the brackets easily.

At Lovely Smiles Orthodontics in Richmond, Texas, Dr. Nicole Thompson and her team have many types of orthodontic options, from traditional metal braces to Invisalign® clear aligners. As important as consistent oral care is for the average person, it’s even more important if you’re sporting braces.

Here, our team explains how you can get around oral care difficulties when you have braces and emerge not only with nice, straight teeth, but also clean and healthy ones.

All about metal/ceramic braces

It wasn’t that long ago that metal braces were the only option for shifting teeth. The braces use square brackets bonded to the front of each tooth, and all of the brackets are connected by wires and rubber bands to achieve the necessary force to realign your teeth.

Today’s metal brackets are smaller, flatter, and more comfortable than their older counterparts. You can even choose fun shapes, Wild Smiles braces, to reflect your personality. There are also alternative systems, such as brackets that lock individually without using o rings known as self-ligating braces. There are also some that are placed behind the teeth and don’t require any wire or o ring changes known as Brius. With these new technologies, you can move through treatment more quickly.

LightForce is the first 3D-printed braces system. The brackets are made of a clear ceramic material that blends in with your natural tooth color, and the wires can be metal or a clear material. With LightForce, an intraoral scanner is used to collect data on the exact size, shape, and alignment of your teeth. Using this information, Dr. Thompson will create a treatment plan as to how she wants your teeth to fit and look at the end of treatment. Then, a set of personalized, one of a kind braces, are 3D-printed just for you. Clinical studies published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics have shown up 45 % faster treatment times with Lightforce braces vs traditional metal braces.

Got braces? The importance of consistent oral care

No matter which of these systems you use, you still have to be diligent in caring for your teeth properly while the braces are in place. It takes some care and patience. But once you’ve got the hang of it, you shouldn’t have any problems.

The key elements are the same as if you didn’t have braces — brushing and flossing and scheduling dental check-ups. The difference is in the “how.”


Brushing is more time-consuming than if you didn’t have braces, but good oral health is worth the effort. Using a soft toothbrush brush, try these steps:

  • Before brushing, rinse your mouth with water to loosen any food particles lodged around the braces
  • Start brushing at the gum line at a 45-degree angle using circular motions on each tooth
  • Place the brush on top of the brackets, and angle it down to brush on top of each bracket
  • Reposition and angle the brush up to brush the bottom of the bracket and the wire

Be sure you brush every tooth at the gum line and above and below the brackets, and take your time moving from one quadrant of your mouth to the next to ensure you’re cleaning all of your teeth. The more you practice, the easier it gets.


Flossing, which uses a thread to clean between teeth, gets at the hard-to-reach places brushes easily miss. Especially, when brackets and wires are in the way. Use regular floss between each tooth once a day, and use an interproximal brush to clean around the brackets and under the wires.

Threading regular floss around the brackets and wires takes time, so give yourself 10-15 minutes to do it properly. Don’t use unwaxed floss, as it can easily tear and become stuck under the brackets. 

An alternative to regular floss are individual flossers such as Platypus flossers or Plackers. These flossers are specifically designed to easily slide between the teeth when wearing braces. Make sure to use a new flosser each time you floss.

A good option if you don’t want to use floss is to get a Waterpik® or other water flosser, which uses a steady stream of water to clean between the teeth and along the gum line. Because it’s so efficient, you only need 3-5 minutes to floss with this device.

Some brands of water flossers offer special tips for use with braces. They are tapered so they can clean around brackets and between teeth more easily than standard tips. Each brand comes with its own set of instructions, so make sure you read them clearly.

Having your teeth straightened means little if you don’t practice good oral hygiene. But, Lovely Smiles Orthodontics can help you get past the problems with good strategies and advice. To schedule a consultation, call us at 832-219-7687, or book online with us today.