How To Clean And Care For Your Braces

Beginning an orthodontic journey with braces, whether they are traditional metal braces, clear braces, lingual braces, or even Invisalign clear aligners, brings a new set of responsibilities to maintain your oral health and your braces’ good condition. To help make it easier, Dr. Heinrichs of Heinrichs Orthodontics has put together the following tips to help teach you how to clean and care for your braces.

Daily Cleaning Routine

When you have braces, either fixed or removable, your oral hygiene routine must change to protect your health and appliances. Below are Dr. Heinrichs’ top tips to help make brushing and flossing with braces more manageable and effective.

Brushing with braces is all about angles. 

Use a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to gently clean around each bracket and wire. This angle is critical to dislodging food particles and plaque around the brackets. Once your braces and the front of your teeth are clean, brush the chewing surfaces and back of your teeth.

Braces are not an excuse not to floss. 

Flossing is a crucial step in your oral hygiene routine and for braces care. We’re also happy to say that, with the right tools, it’s easier to do with braces than you might think. 

  • A floss threader is a game-changer. It easily slips the floss behind the archwire of your braces. Next, you’ll gently insert the floss between your teeth and slide it up and down along the sides of each tooth and under the gumline. 
  • We recommend waxed floss because it is less likely to snag on your braces and unravel. It’ll save you time and money!
  • Water flossers are a must-have for orthodontic patients. These fantastic devices (which you should use in addition to thread flossing) use jets of water to clean out all the hard-to-reach parts of braces your floss and toothbrush might miss. They also help to remove stubborn particles quickly.
  • Interproximal brushes are a convenient and accessible alternative to traditional floss and water flossers. The small brushes are easier to grip than waxed floss and fit easily behind wires and between teeth for detailed cleaning. Interproximal brushes (interdental brushes) are great for braces maintenance use when you’re away from home, like getting food out of braces at work, school, or social events. 

A swish of mouthwash a day keeps the dentist away.

Mouthwash is the final touch in your cleaning routine, offering benefits like fresh breath, strengthening your enamel, and preventing cavities. Swish it around in your mouth for about 30 seconds to allow it to reach all the nooks and crannies of your mouth. Mouthwash helps to dislodge any remaining food particles and reduces the risk of plaque buildup, ensuring your mouth stays clean and healthy. 

Is oral hygiene different for Invisalign clear aligner patients?

Clear aligner patients have an advantage that metal braces, clear braces, and lingual braces don’t—removability! Since your orthodontic appliances will be safely out of the way when you brush your teeth, your oral hygiene routine will not change (unless you had an unhealthy routine…then you might have to make some adjustments!). The only thing you will have to do to maintain your aligners is to clean them!

There are a few methods for cleaning Invisalign aligners, but we only recommend the following two. You can use a soft-bristled manual toothbrush (not the one you use for your teeth), a gentle toothpaste, and room-temperature water to brush and rinse your aligners. Or you can use Invisalign Cleaning Crystals once or twice daily. Let your aligners air dry completely before wearing them.

Cleaning and caring for your aligners is just as important as brushing your teeth! Aligners can achieve the same bacteria and plaque buildup as your teeth and gums, and if you clean one and not the other, you’ll replace what you just removed. 

Before using any product—toothpaste, mouthwash, or cleaning solution—ask Dr. Heinrichs if it’s safe to use for your braces. Incorrect products could cause more harm than good!

How To Clean And Care For Your Braces

Can I Eat Popcorn With Braces?

For patients with metal, clear, and lingual braces, watching what you eat is essential for braces maintenance. Hard, sticky, and overly chewy foods can damage your braces, leading to unplanned visits and potential delays in your treatment. To avoid broken brackets and wires, say a temporary goodbye to popcorn, nuts, chips, hard candies, gum, and other potential dangers. Instead, welcome softer, braces-friendly alternatives into your diet, such as:

  • pasta
  • soft bread
  • soft, boneless seafood and meats (we’re talking no-knife-required softness)
  • french fries
  • rice
  • vegetables softened by boiling or steaming (but no stringy vegetables that could get stuck)
  • soft fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and bananas, 
  • soft tortillas
  • casseroles
  • pies and cake
  • soft sandwiches
  • and more!

For a more exhaustive list, you can ask our team. If you come across an item that you’re unsure of, set it aside and call us to find out! When it comes to caring for your braces, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Bonus Tip: Cut all food into bite-sized pieces! Biting into food can put abnormal pressure on your front brackets that they weren’t designed to handle. Cutting food also allows you to check your food for unwanted ingredients.

Dealing With (& Preventing) Discomfort & Emergencies

Experiencing some discomfort with braces is a normal part of the orthodontic experience. At Heinrichs Orthodontics, we’re committed to helping you manage these sensations effectively, ensuring your treatment is as comfortable as possible. Here are some braces care tips and items you should have in your braces care kit to help you minimize discomfort:

  • Dental wax can help reduce friction, eliminate cheek pinching, and prevent mouth sores.
  • Oral-safe numbing products like Orajel and other over-the-counter medications can temporarily relieve discomfort. 
  • Dental wax can hold broken brackets and wires in place until we can repair them.
  • Always wear a mouthguard when playing sports or other physical activity. 
  • Always put your clear aligners in their protective case when you’re not wearing them. Wearing damaged aligners can be uncomfortable.
  • Be gentle when cleaning your braces and aligners. Too much force can dislodge brackets or damage your aligner trays.
  • After adjustments, eat extra soft food that requires little to no chewing.
  • Ice packs applied to the outside of the mouth can help numb the area and reduce swelling.

If you are experiencing pain that does not go away, contact our Saskatoon office immediately. Please remember that caring for your braces does not mean DIY repairs on broken brackets! Let the experts at Heinrichs Orthodontics set you straight (pun intended).

How To Clean And Care For Your Braces

Visit Dr. Heinrichs For Check-Ups

Your orthodontic transformation is a partnership between you and Heinrichs Orthodontics. Regular visits are crucial for tracking progress, making necessary adjustments to keep teeth moving, and addressing concerns. Skipping these check-ups can put your alignment at risk! 

Remember, we’re here every step of the way to support and guide you. If you have questions about or need assistance with caring for your braces, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s work together to achieve that beautiful smile you’ve dreamed of!