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Caring for Your Teeth while wearing Braces or Retainers

Dr. Greg Greenberg, our RxSmile Frisco orthodontist, provides tips on brushing and flossing while wearing braces and retainers and caring for your teeth.

Brushing and Flossing with Braces and Retainers

Proxabrush® Go-Betweens® handle hard-to-reach places between the teeth most commonly missed by toothbrushing aloneBraces, wires, and other appliances create small ledges, nooks and crannies for food deposits, which can lead to cavities and gum problems. They can attract food and plaque, which can stain teeth if not brushed away. Dr. Greenberg recommends brushing after every meal or snack with fluoride toothpaste and carefully removing any food that may have gotten lodged in your braces. A Waterpik or Airflosser is also helpful to flush out stuck food.

Brushing with Braces

A floss threader helps you floss with braces on.Brush the teeth by using a regular soft toothbrush. Brush down from the top and then up from the bottom on each tooth with braces. Next, brush your teeth with a Proxabrush or “Christmas tree” brush. This brush is specially designed for cleaning between two braces. Insert the brush down from the top and then up from the bottom between two braces. Use several strokes in each direction before moving on to the next space between two braces. Repeat the procedure until all teeth have been cleaned. Dr. Greenberg may also prescribe a special fluoride paste that you will brush with at night to help prevent cavities.

View our video to learn how to take care of your teeth and properly brush with a Philips Sonicare toothbrush:

Flossing with Braces and Retainers

Because your toothbrush won’t reach between your teeth, brushing alone won’t keep your teeth clean and healthy. Flossing can help. A floss threader helps you floss with braces on. Floss once a day like this: Thread floss through the threader and feed the short end of the floss through the space between the main archwire and the upper portion of the tooth closest to the gum. Use a gentle sawing motion to work the floss between two teeth and up under your gum margins. Be careful not to pull with too much force around the archwire. Rinse with lots of clean water and watch your teeth and braces sparkle.

Food Caught Between Teeth Behind Braces

Getting food stuck in between your teeth and behind your braces can be uncomfortable and even a little embarrassing, but it’s an easy fix. All you need is a piece of dental floss. Tie a small knot in the middle of the floss to help remove the food. If you don’t have any floss, try a Proxabrush (Christmas tree brush) or even a regular toothpick. Always be gentle as to not hurt the gums or damage the braces or wires. Oral irrigation is an excellent way to remove food embedded in your braces.

Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces

The goal of wearing braces is to give you straight teeth and a terrific smile. To reach this goal, you must hold up your end of the bargain by doing more than brushing and flossing regularly. While wearing braces, most foods can still be eaten if you cut them into small pieces that can be easily chewed. There are certain foods, however, that can break or loosen braces and should be avoided, such as:

  • Hard candy
  • Ice
  • Popcorn
  • Crusty bread
  • Nuts
  • Sticky candy
  • Carmel
  • Taffy
  • Gum
  • Beef jerky
  • Corn chips

Avoid biting into foods with your front teeth. Cut up or break the following foods into small bite size pieces:

  • Apples: Don’t bite into a whole one! Cut it into thin wedges first.
  • Bagels and hard rolls: This can bend the wires and loosen the brackets.
  • Chicken wings: You can enjoy these if you first cut the meat off the bone.
  • Corn on the cob: Remove the kernels from the cob with a knife.
  • Hard cookies: You can have these if you soften them with milk.
  • Pears: Just like you would with apples, cut them into thin wedges first.
  • Pickles: If you have a craving, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Ribs: Just like you would with chicken wings, take the meat off the bone first.
  • Raw vegetables: Be sure to cut up into bite size pieces.

Recommended Foods to Eat When Wearing Braces

  • Hulless popcorn
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Light crackers or cookies
  • Cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Melons
  • Grapes
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ravioli, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and other noodle dishes

Our goal at RxSmile Frisco orthodontics office with Dr. Greg Greenberg is to provide highly personalized and comprehensive orthodontic care for our families in the Frisco-Plano metropolitan area. If you have questions about braces and would like to make an appointment with our orthodontist, Dr. Greg Greenberg, please call 972 335 1300 Monday through Thursday, or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.

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