If you are here looking for answers on how to floss your teeth with braces properly, then you’re at the right page. Maintaining oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment is a difficult task and not doing it properly may lead to various oral health issues.

Orthodontic treatment is done to straighten your teeth but until that is achieved, you need to carefully remove the plaque trapped between your teeth.

With braces, taking care of your teeth might take three times more energy and time than usual. And flossing on top of that might even seem more tedious.

However, brushing and flossing your teeth with braces is important especially to keep your gums free of infection. In this article, I have highlighted different ways of flossing your teeth with braces to prevent plaque buildup on your teeth and gums while your confident smile is on your way.

Fact: Flossing your teeth with braces help prevent gum diseases like gingivitis and makes your gums and bones healthy. Healthy gums, in turn, make your teeth move faster, shortening the span of your orthodontic treatment.

Why to Floss With Braces?

Before I tell you how to floss your teeth with braces on, let’s first understand its significance. Many people are in a continuous dilemma as to why one should specially floss if we can manage to brush twice daily.

These are the 3 key reasons that makes it imperative to understand that flossing is as important as brushing twice:

  • Braces act as a medium to hold food particles, sugars and liquid while eating. These remnants may further cause tooth decay as well as other dental problems like bad breath. Hence, flossing and tooth brushing both are required in order to keep them clean.
  • Braces don’t provide an access to clean all the areas of the teeth as well as the mouth. Hence, many areas remain unclean due to which bacteria begin to accumulate and lead to gum disorders which in turn weakens your gums.
  • Improper maintenance of oral hygiene may lead to enlargement of gums which may require surgical intervention. So, to avoid that situation flossing is a must.

How to Floss Your Teeth with Braces?

Undoubtedly, flossing with braces is a work that takes more time than usual, but it’s totally worth the effort. With proper techniques, even the most conventional methods have proven useful.

Orthodontic treatment is required to give you a confident smile, however maintaining orthodontic care is of utmost importance as well. No matter which technique you prefer, it is essential to floss regularly while your braces are working for you to provide you with your desired smile.

Here are a few techniques to make flossing with braces seem less of work for you to floss regularly.

1. Traditional flossing

Traditional string flossing with orthodontic braces appears to clean the plaque stuck between the tooth and the braces. However, this technique may demand extra time and can be a bit tricky. The technique is similar to normal flossing with little modification.

Initially, it may take a lot of your time but after carefully mastering the correct technique you will get a hang of it and maintaining oral hygiene will become easy.

Method:

  • Tear of an 18 to 24-inch piece of floss, preferably, waxed dental floss.
  • Next, gently thread the floss between the main wire and your teeth.
  • Wrap the ends of the floss around both of your index fingers to make handling the floss easier.
  • Gently press the floss between the two teeth, and slide the floss up and down along the sides of both teeth.
  • Remove the floss, and gently unthread it from behind the wire.
  • Be careful to not pop the floss out of the tooth. You might accidentally end up knocking the wire.
  • Move to the next pair of teeth, and repeat the process.

2. Floss threaders

Floss threader is a helpful tool which can assist you in speeding up the process, especially if you feel that traditional flossing technique is taking too much time. It is an inexpensive and indispensable plastic tool which helps you to place the floss easily behind the braces.

A floss threader appears similar to a small plastic needle which is easily available in the market and can save several minutes of your regular oral care.

Method:

  • Start with pulling an 18 to 24-inch piece of dental floss (waxed) through the floss threader’s eye.
  • Insert the plastic floss threader’s point beneath the wire of the braces.
  • Pull the floss gently through the wire and hold the floss threader in one hand.
  • Wrap the floss around the index fingers of both hands to give you more control over the thin thread.
  • Gently press the floss between the two teeth sliding it up and down along both the sides of the teeth.
  • Gently pull the floss out from between the teeth, and then pull the floss out from behind the wire.
  • Rethread the floss threader, and repeat the process again for your next set of teeth.

3. Floss picks

Floss picks offer an extremely convenient way of flossing as these picks hold the floss for you. It offers ease of handling as you only have to use one hand. They may be convenient, but they lack efficacy compared to the ordinary thread floss.

Floss picks might not allow you to reach all the necessary angles than a normal floss. However, to solve this problem you may try the angled floss designed for back teeth which easily cleans the back teeth.

  • When you floss, you should strive to complete a “C” shape around the tooth and go up and down to completely clean the tooth. This does not happen with your floss picks.
  • While regular floss is recommended, floss picks are better than not flossing at all if at all you find difficulty in maneuvering the traditional method.

4. Dental tape

Dental tape is floss which is much thicker and flatter than your regular floss. It comes in 2 variants: Waxed and Unwaxed.
This ultrathin floss is smooth and spongy. It’s thinner than traditional floss and comparatively wider too which helps it glide between teeth more easily.

  • Dental tape is a much better option if you tend to hurt your gums while traditional flossing.
  • For sensitive or bleeding gums consider using this floss as it is least traumatic to your gums.
  • Since the floss is thick, it’s a good option if you have bigger gaps between your teeth. It’s also a lot less likely to break than the regular floss.

5. Superfloss

Superfloss is a special kind of pre-threaded flosser that comes in pre-cut segments. It has a stiff end that helps slide it smoothly through tight areas. It has a fuzzy tufted segment that removes plaque as you floss.

  • Superfloss is considered as a perfect companion for cleaning your braces, bridges and wide gaps between teeth.
  • It effectively cleans around appliances and removes plaque under the gum-line.
  • For use, insert the super floss between your braces then floss as you normally would just like traditional flossing.

6. Water flosser

As the name suggests, a water flosser uses a stream of water to clean between the teeth and the gums. Water flosser is also commonly known as an ‘oral irrigator’. It is an easy and effective way to clean braces and take care of your oral health.

With this device it takes around 3-5 minutes to floss your teeth. This method has clinically proven more effective for people with braces.

Method:

  • Fill the machine’s water reservoir with water. You can also add mouthwash to the water for an antibacterial and refreshing effect.
  • Insert the tip on the water flosser and press the button to send water through the flosser to make sure it’s working correctly. Also check whether the water pressure is correct for you.
  • Now activate the water flosser. Meanwhile, close your lips to forestall water from splashing out of your mouth.
  • Place the water flosser near the gumline and glide the water stream between each tooth.
  • If you want, you can gently brush the tooth and brackets to loosen up any food particles lodged between them.
  • Then, spray the water in between the teeth and along the gumline again.
  • Repeat this technique for every tooth surface.
  • After you have finished flossing, empty the reservoir of water and dry the flosser tip. Don’t forget to store in a closed container to protect the tip.

7. Power or Electric flosser

As the name suggests, power flosser is a mechanical device that is battery driven which cleans your teeth and gums effectively.
Electric flosser allows you to floss with one hand just with the press of a button. The nylon tip (flexible) slides easily between your teeth, making it gentle on your gums.

Unlike the water flosser, it doesn’t use a pulsating stream of water instead it just vibrates in oscillating between your teeth and gums releasing the food particles. This is a good alternative if you hate flossing manually or lack the dexterity to floss manually.

  • In addition to cleaning the tooth surfaces, power flosser also provides gum stimulation which increases the keratinization of the gums making them strong.
  • It is not just less complicated to use but also clinically proven to be as effective as manual floss to enhance your gum health.
  • Should be used with proper care as it can be hard on the gum line. Overzealous flossing can actually hurt your thin gums and lead to change in their shape, especially in the region where it can be seen when you smile.

Tips and Tricks to Floss with Braces

Here are a few other tips to make a note of:

  • Use of Waxed dental floss: Waxed floss slides easily between the teeth unlike the unwaxed floss which shreds off between the wires. Shredded floss further leads to plaque accumulation and gum disease. Hence the use of waxed floss is advocated.
  • Floss at least once daily: Flossing once daily removes the food debris stuck in the accessible areas of the mouth. This improves oral hygiene especially during ongoing orthodontic treatment as a brush fails to reach many areas due to braces.
  • Flossing before brushing for better results: Flossing loosens the particles stuck between the teeth spaces. Brushing immediately after flossing releases these particles and leaves you with a clean mouth.
  • Swish your mouth with water after eating or drinking: Swishing immediately after eating or drinking prevents sticking of food particles on your braces.Doing so prevents food lodgement between the braces and makes it easier to get rid of food particles during flossing.
  • Supervise children while flossing: Children require special attention when handling dental floss as they may tear the floss between the teeth or may even break the wire. In such cases parental supervision is required till your child is comfortable with flossing alone.
  • Use of mouthwash along with flossing: Use of mouthwash, preferably fluoride rinses, along with brushing and flossing may improve your oral hygiene as they have better scope of reaching the hard to reach areas of the mouth.
  • Flossing will take time: Flossing with braces is not easy and it is important for you to understand that it is pretty normal. Even though it will take your time, it is mandatory to floss once daily in order to avoid future consequences.
  • Schedule regular cleaning visits every 6 months: An expert intervention may be required every six months as your dentist may guide you in a proper way regarding your oral health. You may even require professional cleaning every six months in order to maintain a good oral hygiene status.

Conclusion

Hope you have found this guide on how to floss your teeth with braces helpful. Orthodontic treatment requires patience as well as systematic oral health management. When it comes to flossing, especially with braces, it is going to take a lot of efforts from your side in order to obtain a healthy mouth.

But at the end of the treatment it is only going to give you immense satisfaction for putting up with the adjustment.
In the above article, I have tried my best to make flossing seem less of work and more of need. I can assure you that after following the proper protocols you can surely achieve good oral hygiene and a positive smile totally worth your efforts.

About the Author

Dr. Rutuja Sankhe

Dr. Rutuja Sankhe is a Periodontist & Implantologist. She completed her masters in 2019. She is a Dental Surgeon by profession and is currently working in Mumbai as a consultant. She has an excellent knack for writing and has a tremendous interest in research work.

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