Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Select An Article
Font Size

Caring for Teeth With Braces and Retainers

Braces, wires, springs, rubber bands, and other appliances can attract food and plaque, which can stain teeth if not brushed away. Most orthodontists recommend brushing after every meal or snack with fluoridetoothpaste and carefully removing any food that may have gotten stuck in your braces. Some orthodontists will also prescribe or recommend a fluoride mouthwash, which can get into places in the mouth that a toothbrush can't reach.

Flossing & Brushing Tips With Braces

To floss teeth if you have braces, feed the short end of the floss through the space between the main arch wire and the upper portion of the tooth closest to the gum. Use a gentle sawing motion to work the floss on each side of the two teeth the floss is between. Be careful not to pull with too much force around the arch wire. Begin brushing 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.

Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces

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:

  1. Hard or tough-to-bite foods, such as apples or bagels
  2. Chewy foods, such as taffy or caramels
  3. Corn on the cob
  4. Hard pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and carrots

In addition to foods, do not chew ice or bubble gum.

Caring for Retainers

Every time you brush your teeth, brush your retainer as well. Once a day or at least once a week, disinfect the retainer by soaking it in a denture cleanser, such as Efferdent, Polident, or other brand name solutions. Add the cleanser to a cup full of warm -- but never hot -- water. Thoroughly rinse the retainer with plain water before placing it back in your mouth.

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

You can continue to participate in any sport if you have braces. When playing sports where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouthguard will need to be worn. The mouthguard, made of durable plastic, is designed to fit comfortably over braces and will protect the soft tissues inside the mouth.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

big smile
Article
Man grinding teeth
Article
 
Close-up of toothbrush
Health Check
how your mouth impacts your health
Slideshow
 

are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
bpa dental sealants
Video
 
Healthy Mouth Slideshow
Video
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 

15 myths and facts about cavities
Video
how healthy is your mouth
Video
 
elmo brushing teeth
fitVideo
5 ways to prevent diabetes dental problems
Video