Brushing and Flossing

Tips From Your Tri-Cities Orthodontist

Brushing with braces.

Dr. Scott Ostler and his friendly team members are committed to helping you maintain good oral hygiene both in and out of the office. This is why Oslter Orthodontics has decided to provide you with tips for proper brushing and flossing with braces. It is important to follow these instructions and use the suggested appliances to avoid cavities and to ensure your teeth are being cleaned thoroughly.

Basic Brushing Techniques

The first tool you will need for proper brushing is either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (one with shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges). An electric toothbrush is another option but it must be used carefully with your braces on a moderate power level.

Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day (preferably after each meal) for two minutes at a time. Brush all tooth surfaces in a circular motion including the inside, outside and chewing services as well. Be especially careful when cleaning the areas between your teeth and braces such as your brackets and gums where food particles can easily become trapped.

Place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth and use small circular motions to gently clean your teeth. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line and keep up with your circular motions. Move on to the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth and move your brush back and forth. Lastly, finish by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of your teeth as well as your tongue.

Special Brushing Tools

Interdental toothbrush.

If you're having trouble cleaning the areas near brackets and wires, there are some special tools that may help. One is the interdental toothbrush, or proxabrush. It has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around, like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.

Another special cleaning tool is the oral irrigator or “water pick.” This device shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies. While it's easy to use, an oral irrigator isn't a substitute for a toothbrush or dental floss — but when used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it can be very effective.

Floss Fundamentals

Floss threader.

Try to get into a healthy habit of flossing at least once a day, preferably before bedtime after you have finished eating for the day. To get the floss under the archwire of your brackets, you will need a floss threader. Using this device is somewhat like threading a needle: you pull one end of the floss through the threader, and then push the threader under the archwire. Grasp the floss on each end and slide it up and down both sides of your teeth and all the way down under the gums until you hear a squeaky sound. Finally, pull it out and use a new section of floss for the next area.

Full Disclosure

Ever wonder how effective your tooth-cleaning techniques really are? There's an accurate way to tell, using special vegetable dyes called “disclosing solutions” or “disclosing tablets.” As they dissolve in the mouth, these dyes highlight plaque and food debris that brushing has missed. You can then easily remove the dyed spots — and you'll know for sure if your oral hygiene methods need a little “brushing up.”

Thank you for choosing Ostler Orthodontics for your Richland and Pasco, WA orthodontic treatment. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is an important investment in your future. To get the best results possible, follow Dr. Ostler’s suggestions and you can look forward to a brighter smile that will last a lifetime!

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