Getting braces can be quite uncomfortable, and you’ll have to keep them for several months — or up to a few years, in some cases. In the meantime, you’ll have to take special care of your oral health. And while brushing with braces is relatively easy, flossing can be a challenge. So, how do you floss with braces?
Flossing with braces can be a hassle, but it’s essential to floss once or twice daily. Because the wires of the braces make it tricky to use regular floss, try alternatives like a floss threader, super floss, dental tape, interdental brushes, orthodontic floss picks, or a Waterpik.
Let’s explore the proper technique to follow when flossing with braces, why it’s even more important to floss regularly when you have braces, and which floss is best to try.
How to Floss With Braces
Flossing regularly is essential to maintaining good oral hygiene. If you have braces, it’s necessary to floss daily to prevent gum diseases, infections, and cavities.
Flossing can be a difficult task with braces because the wires of the braces restrict you from flossing normally. However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon flossing altogether. You’ll just have to change the way you floss.
Follow these steps to floss properly with braces:
- Brush your teeth first to remove large food particles and bacteria from between your teeth and the wires of the braces.
- Take a 20- to 30-cm-long piece of floss and wrap it tightly around your index fingers.
- Place the floss between your teeth and the wire vertically. Start moving the flossing up and down in a gentle rotating motion for cleaning.
Remember to keep a firm grip on your floss and don’t move it rapidly between your teeth and braces; doings so can loosen the metal wires of the braces.
- Repeat the steps and floss until you’ve cleaned all your teeth thoroughly.
What Happens if You Don’t Floss With Braces?
Flossing with braces might seem like a daunting task, but it’s a crucial part of your oral health routine. If you have braces and you don’t floss regularly or don’t floss at all, the results will likely be harmful to your oral health.
If you don’t floss daily, it may damage not only your teeth but also your braces — and once the braces are damaged, all the money you’ve spent goes down the drain!
It’s easy for large food particles to get stuck between your teeth, gumline, and wires of the braces. If you neglect flossing, the braces might need constant repairs. Also, the dirty area between your teeth and the braces can result in cavities and tooth decay, and you may even lose your teeth in severe cases.
Not flossing regularly when you have braces can also result in plaque buildup, gum diseases, bad breath, and stained teeth. Unclean and damaged braces mean that you might find it difficult to move your teeth.
You don’t have to go overboard, though. Flossing once a day is enough, even if you have braces. Just make sure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day or after every meal.
Which Floss Is Best for Braces?
If you have braces and find regular floss difficult to use, there’s no need to worry. There are a few alternatives that can help reduce the difficulty you face while flossing.
These include a floss threader, a Waterpik, orthodontic floss, and more. Let’s explore these flossing alternatives in detail:
Floss threaders — like these ones from DenTek (on Amazon) — are an excellent and easy-to-use alternative for people who find regular flossing time-consuming. If you want to get the cleaning job done quickly and efficiently, the floss threader is the right tool for you.
Here’s how you use a floss threader:
- Take a 20- to 30-inch piece of floss and insert it through the threader. Now, place the plastic needle under the wire of your braces and gently pull the floss through the wire.
- Hold the floss threader in one hand and wrap the floss around your index finger.
- In a rotating motion, move the floss up and down between your teeth and the metal wire.
- Repeat the process for each tooth.
A floss threader is inexpensive, and one pack will last months. However, you might find it a bit tricky to use in the beginning, especially for kids who don’t yet have the skills or patience to floss properly.
Super Floss is essentially regular floss with a rigid end. It’s similar to a floss threader, but it saves you from the process of having to insert the floss through the threader. All you have to do is take the stiff end of the Super Floss, guide it underneath the metal wire and start cleaning.
Super Floss (on Amazon) is readily available, and it’s easier to use than a floss threader. However, you might need to buy multiple packs of Super Floss each month for flossing, and it’s not as reusable as a floss threader.
If you’re someone who finds regular flossing painful, then dental tape is a good alternative. It’s very helpful if you don’t already have the habit of flossing before getting braces.
If you have very sensitive gums, consider using dental tape (on Amazon) because it’s soft, smooth, and thin — and it’ll glide between your teeth easily for cleaning. There’s also no learning curve when it comes to using dental tape since the flossing technique is very similar to that of regular floss.
Interdental brushes are small, thin brushes with soft bristles. They’re helpful for cleaning the space between your teeth and the metal wire of the braces, and they effectively remove plaque and food particles stuck in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth.
To use an interdental brush as a flossing alternative, you need to place it between your teeth and brush the area gently. Then, move the brush underneath the metal wire for cleaning.
Interdental brushes (on Amazon) are a great alternative for you if regular flossing with braces causes you discomfort. These brushes also come in multiple sizes for all types of braces.
Orthodontic Floss Picks
Orthodontic floss picks (on Amazon) are a faster alternative to regular floss picks, and they give the same results. These picks are designed in a way that allows the floss to only go through the bracket of your braces and not through the wires.
These picks are easy to use, and you can slide them between your teeth and metal wire without much effort. If you have braces, this floss is highly recommended.
A Waterpik (on Amazon) is a device that cleans the area between your teeth and along the gumline with a stream of pressurized water. It removes plaque and food debris and effectively protects your mouth from breeding bacteria and infections around the braces.
If you find flossing too complex, then a Waterpik is a great option for you because you don’t need to learn a tough technique to use it. You just have to direct the tip of the Waterpik along different areas of your mouth for cleaning. It’s also effective at cleaning braces and can remove dirt from areas that regular floss can’t access.
If your gums bleed or swell because of regular floss, then try a water flosser. Even though Waterpik is expensive, it’s a one-time investment, and you’ll end up paying less in the long run.
How Often Should You Floss With Braces?
If you have braces, you should floss at least once or twice a day to maintain good oral hygiene. You can floss in the morning after waking up and at night before going to bed.
It’s highly recommended that you floss after eating. You should also avoid sugary, sticky, and crunchy foods to protect your braces.
Flossing once or twice daily will remove the food particles and other deposits stuck between your teeth, gum line, and braces, and it will highly reduce the risk of oral diseases.
Even though flossing with braces may feel like a chore, it’s better to take care of your oral hygiene than to suffer the harmful consequences later.
How Long Does It Take to Floss With Braces?
You might think that flossing seems time-consuming, but it can be done relatively quickly, and is worth every second.
If you have braces, you may need to floss for about 10 minutes to clean your mouth thoroughly. Initially, you might be slower, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll floss at a faster pace.
So, give yourself time to develop the habit of flossing and learn how to floss properly. It might seem like a waste of time, but it’s definitely not if you consider how much time you might spend at the dentist if you neglect flossing!