Practicing proper oral hygiene should always be a priority. But that takes on a whole new level when you’re wearing braces.

You’re excited for the thought of having a straight smile when the braces come off. But if you don’t take extra care of it during the process, you could end up with ugly stains, white spots, or tooth decay when it’s all said and done.

To make sure you enjoy that smile in the end, let’s look at these oral hygiene tips to follow while wearing braces.

1. Regular Brushing Is Key

Regular brushing is not a new concept. But when you have braces, you need to crank your routine up a notch.

Food loves to hide in all the nooks and crannies of braces. And if your teeth aren’t brushed properly, it leaves them open to forming white spots, tooth decay, and gum disease. Everything you don’t want to deal with when the braces come off.

Aim for brushing your teeth after every meal, or at least three times a day. Since your toothbrush bristles are likely to wear out faster with braces, make sure to replace it often. In fact, an electric toothbrush is best for brushing braces.

2. Add a Different Kind of Brush

To be even more diligent, adding an interdental brush to your routine is a good idea. It’s a small brush that’s typically used to clean in-between teeth. But it’s also great for brushing around the wires and metal brackets of braces.

You can use an interdental brush to clean and loosen debris before you brush regularly. The small bristles are able to reach around the wires and brackets, getting into spaces your normal toothbrush can miss.

Use a mirror to make sure you get in-between each bracket and wire. Make sure to be gentle. You don’t want to be too aggressive and end up damaging your braces.

3. Don’t Forget to Floss

There’s no doubt that braces can make flossing a bit more difficult. Many people use this excuse to skip it altogether. But flossing is important to remove the plaque buildup that a toothbrush simply can’t reach.

To make this task more manageable, use an orthodontic flosser or floss threader. These are available in most drug stores.

Wax floss will also make it a little easier. It slides easier between your teeth, which lessens the chance of it getting snagged in your braces.

No matter what you use, make sure to floss at least once a day. Take it easy on your gums. Being too rough can irritate your gums and lead to infections.

4. Finish with a Rinse

Rinsing can become your new best friend when you’re caring for braces. That’s because it makes the cleaning process easier. Plus, it can protect your enamel and fight off gingivitis.

Giving your mouth a quick rinse with water before you brush helps loosen any food trapped in your braces.

After you’re done brushing, grab an antiseptic mouthwash. Swishing that around will reduce any biofilm and inflammation that can lead to gingivitis. It also gives you a fresh smelling breath, which is never a bad thing.

5. Watch What You Eat

Because your teeth can be harder to clean while wearing braces, it’s best to avoid foods that cause damage to your gums and tooth enamel.

Eating foods high in sugar and starch leads to plaque buildup around your metal brackets. This can cause cavities, staining of the teeth, and even gum disease.

You should also limit high-acid foods. Items such as soft drinks, pineapples, and tomatoes have acid that can erode away the enamel on your teeth. Once the enamel is gone, you can’t get it back.

Hard, crunchy foods pose a damage risk to the braces themselves. Biting into a crunchy apple or piece of ice may cause the wires to bend and the brackets to pop off.

Sticky foods are also known for pulling metal brackets out of place, which requires added visits to the orthodontist to repair.

6. Cut Out Chewing Habits and Protect Your Braces

Something that many people don’t think about are the unconscious habits that can cause damage to the braces.

Those who like to bite their fingernails or chew on the lid of a pen can pop brackets off or bend wires unintentionally. If you fall into that category, try to find other habits to keep your hands busy, such as playing with a fidget spinner.

Even the simple act of biting into food can cause damage or jam food into your braces. Using a knife and fork to eat with will help keep this issue at bay.

If you like to play sports, always wear a mouth guard. The last thing you want is to get hit in the mouth with something and end up back at the orthodontist for more repairs to your braces.

7. Attend All Dentist and Orthodontist Appointments

Having regular appointments with your dentist and orthodontist will ensure that your teeth are being well cared for.

They’ll be able to do professional cleanings and spot any warning signs that a problem may be brewing in your mouth. A professional can also teach you techniques to fix the issue before it gets out of hand.

It’s always important to keep an open line of communication with them and their staff. Even if you don’t have an appointment, calling with questions or concerns can head off any problems and keep you informed on the best care for your braces.

Taking Extra Care While Wearing Braces Is Worth It

There’s no doubt about it, maintaining proper oral care while wearing braces takes extra time and effort. But having that perfect smile to enjoy when the braces come off will make it all worth it in the end.

Dr. Whitlock and his staff are here to help you rock your smile! Book an easy appointment request and let us give you a complimentary customized plan.