How to Clean Teeth With Braces

Get a special toothbrush for braces. Since braces require placing devices on your teeth, use a proper toothbrush or toothbrushes. Purchase a regular brush and consider adding a braces-specific proxabrush to get between brackets.[1]

Get a regular brush with soft bristles.[2]

Make sure the brush size and shape fit your mouth, which can help reach all areas of your mouth.[3]

Buy a proxabrush, or “Christmas tree” brush, if you like. This may help you more effectively clean between braces.[4]

Replace any brush with frayed bristles or every 3-4 months.[5]



Prepare your brush

Run your toothbrush(es) under water and put a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste on it.[6] This can ensure the most effective cleaning of your teeth, braces, and oral cavity.

Use fluoride toothpaste. It can help strengthen your teeth and remove plaque, which may build up around braces with improper brushing.[7]

Braces may make your teeth sensitive, so you may want to use a fluoride toothpaste formulated to minimize sensitivity.[8]




Tackle brushing in four sections.

Section your mouth into top, left, right, and bottom quadrants for brushing. Setting up specific sections can help you make sure that every surface is properly cleaned.

Brush whichever section you want or what makes you most comfortable.

Make sure to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth as well.

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle using gentle pressure.[9] Make sure the brush stays in contact with the surface of your teeth and gum line.[10]

Brush from outer to inner tooth surfaces with short strokes and repeat the process for each section of your mouth.[11]

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Brush the inside surfaces of your front teeth by angling the brush vertically and making several up and down strokes.[12]

Pay attention to the surfaces around and in-between your braces, which is where plaque can build up.[13]

Brush chewing surfaces, your tongue, and soft palate using a scrubbing motion that gently goes back and forth.[14]

Wearing braces means that your gums will always be slightly inflamed, so expect small amounts of bleeding. This is normal.


Use your proxabrush

When you’ve finished using your regular brush, consider using a proxabrush, or “Christmas tree” brush. This may help you more effectively clean between individual brackets if you are concerned your regular brush isn’t enough.[15]

Work on two teeth at a time.[16]

Insert the brush from the top of the wire between two brackets and then repeat from the bottom.[17]




Floss your teeth

Each time your brush your teeth, take time to floss as well. Because debris can easily get stuck in teeth with braces and plaque can build up, flossing is can help remove lingering debris.[18]

Remove about 18 inches of floss from the packaging. Wrap it around your middle fingers.[19] Grasp the rest between your thumbs and forefingers.[20]

Gently feed the floss between the top of your tooth near the gum and the main arch wire of your bracket.[21]

Use a gentle sawing motion on the side of each tooth.[22]

Ask your orthodontist if there is a specific type of floss you should use.

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types of braces or dental appliances

The floss used to clean dental bridges may be a good option because it has a tip that gently goes between your teeth and gums.

Try water-flossing if you don’t like regular floss or your doctor suggests it.



Use an antiseptic mouth rinse

Rinse your mouth with mouthwash after you’ve brushed and flossed. Studies have shown that using a mouthwash may decrease plaque, which can be a problem for people with braces. It may also clear lingering food particles or bacteria.[23]

Swish the mouthwash in your mouth.

Buy a mouthwash with chlorhexidine, which many oral care professionals recommend. Mouthwashes containing alcohol can dry out your mouth and cause bad breath.[24]


Maintaining Oral Health with Braces

Brush and floss daily

Brush and floss your teeth and braces daily as well as after meals. This can minimize plaque and remove debris and bacteria.

Brush and floss after meals if you are able.


Maintain a healthy diet

Watching what you eat can promote overall and oral health. Eat a balanced diet that is low in sugary foods to minimize plaque or stain formation around your braces.[27]

Eat lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and legumes.

If you eat something sugary, consider brushing your teeth when you’re done.

Some examples of sugary foods and drinks to stay away from are soft drinks, sweets, candies, and even wine.




Avoid foods that can damage braces

Certain foods and colored drinks can stick to or damage your braces. Staying away from them can help you avoid problems with your teeth and braces.[28] Some foods to avoid are:

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Corn on the cob

Chewing gum

Whole apples

Sticky foods, such as caramel.[29]



See your dentist and orthodontist regularly

Regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist are important to maintaining oral health. You should also visit your orthodontist regularly to help correct your teeth. Visit your dentist at least twice a year and your orthodontist as often as she suggests.

Consider using a dentist and orthodontist who work together.


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