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Brushing and Flossing with Braces

Brushing with braces.You know how important it is to brush and floss properly when you're wearing braces — but what's the best way to do that?

Braces can make maintaining thorough oral hygiene difficult. However, there are some best practices and special tools you can employ to make your brushing and flossing easier and more efficient than ever!

Brushing Basics


Let's start with the basic brushing tools. We recommend choosing between either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (a toothbrush that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges). Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can also work. But be sure that the electric brush you select is set to a moderate power level whenever you use it, and be mindful of the vibrations. You don’t want them to cause the back of your brush to hit your brackets or braces.

Best Practices

Dr. Larry Caldwell and his pediatric dentistry team recommend that you brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day (preferably after meals) for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all of the tooth surfaces: outside, inside, and the chewing surfaces as well. And be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, and between brackets and gums — that's where food particles can easily become trapped, causing decay.


Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of your toothbrush bristles flat against your teeth then use small circular motions to gently polish them clean. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions. Next move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, utilizing a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.

Flossing Fundamentals

To keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy you need to floss at least once per day. But how do you get floss under the archwire of your braces? It's not so hard with the help of the Harp Orthodontic Flosser. This innovative tool allows the average patient to thoroughly floss his or her teeth in less than three minutes. The Harp is ergonomically designed to reach all teeth while maneuvering under braces with absolute ease. Remember to slide the floss of the tool all the way under the gums until you hear a squeaky sound. That means you’ve been thoroughly flossed! Ask one of our pediatric dentistry team members about the Harp today, or order yours online.

Other Special Oral Hygiene Tools

Designed by Dr. Caldwell, the Harp is the perfect flossing tool for all patients with braces. Other tools that can make your oral hygiene routine simpler include the interdental toothbrush (or proxabrush) and the “water pick.” An interdental toothbrush has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around it like a pipe cleaner, and it can be used to clean tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets. Meanwhile the water pick shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies. Note, while helpful, an interdental toothbrush and a water pick are not substitutes for proper brushing or flossing via the Harp Orthodontic Flosser.

Full Disclosure

Ever wonder how effective your tooth-cleaning techniques really are? You can learn the truth by using special vegetable dyes called “disclosing solutions” or “disclosing tablets.” As they dissolve in your mouth, these dyes highlight plaque and food debris that brushing has missed. You can then easily remove the dyed spots, knowing for sure whether or not your oral hygiene methods need a little “brushing up.”

Healthy Smiles for a Lifetime

Every day you keep your teeth and gums healthy is an investment in your future. It enables you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment, and starts you toward a brighter smile that can last a lifetime. For more information on brushing and flossing, the Harp, or our pediatric dentistry and special needs pediatric dentistry services, contact Larry Caldwell, DDS & Associates today!