teenage girl with braces

How to Floss with Braces

Everyone knows how important it is to floss. Clearing the plaque and food debris out from between your teeth is a fundamental part of basic oral health, but it becomes even more significant when you have braces. It’s crucial to keep teeth healthy while they are being straightened. Although it may take more time than flossing without braces, it’ll help ensure that your smile is healthy and bright once your braces come off.

Be prepared that flossing with braces might take longer than flossing without them. Be patient with yourself and take your time! You want to be careful to floss around the brackets and to get every nook and cranny is cleaned. And don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it and be more methodical about it with time.

*Pro Tip: Lots of people tell us that they floss after they brush and while we’re thrilled that they’re flossing at all, it’s best to floss before you brush. This way, you’ve loosened the plaque and debris so that your brush can sweep it away.

Since it’s important to pass the floss in the space between the teeth and the gums, Dr. Walkington recommends using a floss threader. Braces can be plaque traps and floss threaders allow you to get to the hard-to-reach places behind your braces.

Floss threaders are nylon loops that will work with all types of floss and help you to floss under, around, and between your braces. Floss threaders are inexpensive and disposable; you can find them almost anywhere. Ask us about them at your next appointment!

How to Use a Floss Threader

Step 1:

Start by pulling off 12 – 18 inches of floss from the container. Once you have your length, you can stick one end of the floss into the loop of the threader and pull about 5 inches or so through.

Step 2:

Insert the floss threader under the wire of your braces and pull the floss through. Be gentle! Don’t pull against the brace wire – you’re only trying to get behind it so you can floss as normal. A mirror can be a huge help here.

Step 3:

Floss between the teeth and gums as normal. It may not feel like the floss is doing a whole lot, but floss is for more than just getting visible debris out of the way. Floss also removes the plaque that builds up in the mouth and can cause decay, pain, discoloration if not addressed, and bad breath. Removing the plaque before it hardens into tartar and causes all sorts of other problems and even makes it harder to brush and floss like you should is perk of flossing everyday like we tell you to.

Step 4:

Carefully pull the floss completely free. Be careful not to let it get caught on your braces and try not to lose the threader. Congratulations! You’ve just flossed your teeth!

Step 5:

Repeat steps 2-4 until you’ve flossed between every tooth all the way back to your furthest molars.

*Pro Tip: If you don’t want to use a floss threader, use waxed floss. Non-waxed floss is more likely to get stuck on braces and leave behind shreds of floss.

Some gum bleeding is common when you first start flossing with your braces. It’s important to let our office know if the gum bleeding while flossing continues so that we can address the reason before more serious problems develop. Dental tape might be more comfortable for you to use since it’s wider and gentler on gums.

Flossing with braces isn’t the most fun, but it’s important! If you feel like you’re not doing a good job, ask us for tips and a demonstration; together we’ll make sure you take care of your smile while going through your orthodontic work.

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