Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential when wearing braces to ensure healthy teeth and gums. Flossing plays a crucial role in preventing plaque buildup and maintaining optimal dental health. However, flossing with braces can be a bit challenging due to the wires and brackets. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed guide on how to floss with braces effectively, along with different tools you can use.
What is Flossing?
Flossing is a dental hygiene technique that involves cleaning the spaces between your teeth and along the gumline using a thin thread-like material called dental floss. This process helps remove food particles, plaque, and bacteria that your toothbrush might not reach, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
How to Floss with Braces : Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools
Before you begin flossing, ensure you have the following tools:
Orthodontic Floss: Orthodontic floss is specifically designed for braces. It is a thin, wax-coated floss that can easily slide between wires and brackets, making it more effective in removing debris and plaque.
Floss Threader: A floss threader is a flexible plastic tool that helps guide the floss under the arch wire of your braces. It is especially useful for accessing the areas between the teeth and braces.
Interdental Brushes: Interdental brushes have tiny bristles that can fit between the brackets and wires, allowing you to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Step 2: Prepare the Floss
Cut a piece of orthodontic floss measuring around 18 inches (45 cm) long. This length should be sufficient for flossing your entire mouth without reusing the same section, ensuring cleanliness.
Step 3: Use the Floss Threader
Insert one end of the floss into the loop of the floss Threader. Thread the floss through the loop until it is secure.
Step 4: Guide the Floss Under the Arch wire
Carefully guide the floss Threader under the arch wire of your braces. Be gentle to avoid damaging the wire or brackets. Move the floss Threader back and forth to ensure the floss is positioned between the teeth and braces.
Step 5: Floss Between the Teeth
Once the floss is under the arch wire, hold the floss with your fingers and slide it up and down between the teeth, making a C-shape around each tooth. Be sure to clean both sides of the tooth and beneath the gum line. Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth.
Step 6: Repeat the Process
Continue threading the floss under the arch wire and flossing between each pair of teeth until you have cleaned all the spaces in your mouth.
Step 7: Rinse and Inspect
After flossing, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water or an antimicrobial mouthwash to remove any remaining debris. Inspect your teeth and braces in the mirror to ensure all areas have been adequately cleaned.
Different Tools Commonly Used for Flossing:
Each of these flossing tools has its advantages and is suitable for different dental needs. Choosing the right tool depends on your personal preference, dental condition, and any specific dental work you may have, such as braces or implants. Consult with your dentist or dental hygienist to determine the most suitable flossing tool for your specific situation. Here are some different tools commonly used for flossing:
Dental floss is a thin, string-like material made of nylon or plastic. It is the most traditional and widely used tool for flossing. Dental floss can be waxed or unwaxed and comes in various flavors. It effectively removes plaque and debris from the spaces between teeth and along the gum line.
A floss threader is a small, flexible plastic tool designed to help guide dental floss under orthodontic wires, dental bridges, or other dental appliances. It consists of a loop at one end where the floss is threaded through. The other end of the floss Threader is inserted under the dental appliance, allowing you to floss between teeth and around braces or other orthodontic work.
Interdental brushes, also known as proxy brushes or interproximal brushes, are small, cone-shaped brushes with bristles. They are designed to clean the spaces between teeth, especially in areas where there are larger gaps or orthodontic appliances. Interdental brushes come in various sizes to accommodate different tooth gaps. They are particularly useful for removing plaque and debris around braces, dental implants, and bridges.
A water flosser, also called an oral irrigator, is a device that uses a stream of water to clean between teeth and along the gum line. It usually consists of a water reservoir and a handheld device with a nozzle. Water flossers are effective in removing plaque, food particles, and bacteria. They can be especially beneficial for individuals with braces, or implants, or those who have difficulty using traditional floss.
Floss picks are small plastic tools that combine a short strand of dental floss with a handle. They are convenient to use and can be helpful for reaching the back teeth. Floss picks typically have a curved or angled design, making them easier to maneuver in the mouth. However, they may not provide the same level of flexibility as traditional floss for accessing tight spaces between teeth.
Air flossers use bursts of compressed air or water to clean between teeth. They work by directing a pressurized stream of air or water to dislodge plaque and food particles. Air flossers are an alternative to traditional flossing and can be particularly useful for individuals with limited dexterity or those who find it challenging to use other flossing tools.
Pros and Cons of Flossing with Braces
Flossing with braces, like any dental care practice, has its pros and cons. Let’s explore them in detail:
Pros of Flossing with Braces:
Maintains Oral Hygiene: Flossing with braces is crucial for maintaining good oral hygiene by removing plaque, food particles, and bacteria from hard-to-reach areas that brushing alone cannot reach. This helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Reduces Risk of White Spots: Proper flossing helps remove plaque buildup around the brackets, reducing the risk of white spots or decalcification on the teeth. White spots indicate weakened tooth enamel and can be permanent if not addressed.
Protects Gum Health: Flossing removes plaque and debris from the gum line, reducing the risk of gum inflammation and gingivitis. Healthy gums are essential for the success of orthodontic treatment and overall oral health.
Cons of Flossing with Braces:
Initial Difficulty: Flossing with braces can be challenging, especially when navigating around the wires and brackets. It requires patience and practice to get accustomed to threading the floss under the wires and properly cleaning between teeth.
Time-Consuming: Flossing with braces may take more time compared to flossing without braces. The process of threading the floss and maneuvering it around the brackets and wires requires additional effort, adding to your oral care routine.
Risk of Floss Breakage: The wires and brackets of braces can sometimes cause floss to snap or shred. It is important to be gentle while flossing to avoid damaging the braces or getting the floss stuck.
Flossing with braces requires a bit of extra effort, but it is vital for maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing dental issues. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article and using the recommended tools, such as orthodontic floss, floss threaders, and interdental brushes, you can effectively clean your teeth and braces. Remember to be gentle and thorough in your flossing routine to ensure optimal dental health throughout your orthodontic treatment.