7 Dental Care Tips for People With Braces

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Mary Elizabeth Dallas on March 31, 2021
  • Happy Black Woman with Braces
    Strategies for a Healthy, Beautiful Smile
    Good oral hygiene is especially important when you have braces. Food and plaque trapped in or around your braces can lead to bad breath, stained teeth, swollen gums, and cavities. Braces make it much harder to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But the benefits of correct bite and straight teeth far outweigh the extra effort. Follow these strategies for a beautiful and healthy smile when your braces come off.
  • Young Woman with Braces Brushing Teeth
    1. Brush regularly.
    Try to brush after every meal or snack. Keep a travel toothbrush with you so you can clean your teeth even when you're not at home. You may want to invest in disposable toothbrushes to encourage the habit. Brush for at least two minutes, cleaning every surface of every tooth and underneath the wires. Remember to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth, too. If you can't brush right after a meal, at least rinse your mouth with water.
  • cup full of toothbrushes
    2. Replace your toothbrush often.
    Braces can cause the bristles of your toothbrush to wear out faster than usual. So, get a new toothbrush every three months. Consider a power toothbrush. It can do a better job of getting rid of food and plaque. Your orthodontist may also suggest using special brushes (interproximal or interdental) to clean hard-to-reach areas. These are toothpick-sized tools with a bristle head. They can help remove food particles trapped under the wires of your braces and between your teeth.
  • Dental assistant flossing between girls braces
    3. Don’t forget to floss.
    With braces, flossing may be a bit awkward and take longer to do at first. But, it's still a priority. Using a floss threader might make it easier to clean between teeth. It will help you get the floss under the wires of your braces. Be sure to floss carefully along your gum line. It’s also a good idea to use waxed floss. It's less likely to get shredded by your braces.
  • Close up of hands slicing vegetables with knife
    4. Eat a healthy diet.
    Having braces is one more reason to follow a healthy diet. Cutting back on sugar will reduce your risk for cavities. That's important because braces make it harder to clean your teeth. Also, any plaque that builds up around your braces could stain your teeth. Try to avoid snacking. But if you do eat between meals, choose foods that are good for your body and your teeth, like cheese, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
  • Candy Apples
    5. Avoid “problem” foods.
    Sticky, chewy or very hard foods can damage your braces. That means avoiding hard candy, popcorn, hard pretzels, and hard-crusted rolls. You should also steer clear of chewy candies like caramel. Chewing gum or crunching on ice can also bend or break your braces. Rather than sink your teeth into an apple, cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Do the same for other hard foods like corn on the cob, ribs, and carrots.
  • College Student Chewing on Pencil
    6. Renounce bad habits.
    If you bite your nails, having braces is a good reason to stop. This bad habit can damage your braces or cause the wires in your mouth to bend. Chewing on any hard objects, including pencils or pens, can also cause your braces to become loose or break.
  • Patient in reception area
    7. Visit your dentist regularly.
    Going to your orthodontist isn't enough for the best overall oral health. Regular dental checkups are a must, too. Have your mouth examined by your regular dentist and have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. Some people with braces may need to see their dentist even more often. Follow the schedule outlined by your care team. Regular visits will keep your teeth and gums healthy.
7 Dental Care Tips for People With Braces

About The Author

  1. Braces. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/braces
  2. Braces: Straighter teeth can improve oral health. American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient_74.ashx 
  3. Keeping Your Teeth Clean: A ‘must’ during orthodontic treatment. American Association of Orthodontists. https://www.aaoinfo.org/system/files/media/documents/Keep_Teeth_Clean_MLMS-l.pdf
  4. FAQ’s. American Association of Orthodontists. http://mylifemysmile.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/FAQs.pdf
  5. Food Tips. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/.
  6. Miles of Smiles. New Jersey Department of Health. http://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/oral/documents/miles_of_smiles_10-11.pdf
  7. Nutrition. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/
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Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 31
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.