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Best ways to clean and care for braces: tips for teens and adults

Best Ways to Clean and Care for Braces: Tips for Teens and Adults

Having braces can be a transformative experience, leading to a beautiful, straight smile. However, achieving that perfect smile requires diligent care and maintenance of your braces and oral hygiene. Whether you’re a teenager navigating the challenges of adolescence or an adult embracing orthodontic treatment later in life, here are some comprehensive tips on how to clean and care for your braces effectively.

1. Brushing Basics

Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of good oral hygiene, especially when you have braces. It’s recommended to brush after every meal and snack to prevent food particles from getting trapped in your braces and causing plaque buildup. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and brush at a 45-degree angle to clean both the teeth and the braces. Pay extra attention to brushing along the gumline and around the brackets and wires.

2. Flossing Techniques

Flossing with braces requires a bit more effort but is equally essential. Regular floss might be challenging to maneuver between wires and brackets, so opt for special orthodontic floss threaders or dental floss designed for braces. Gently thread the floss under the wires and between teeth, carefully removing plaque and food particles. Floss at least once a day, preferably before bedtime, to ensure thorough cleaning between teeth and under the gumline.

3. Interdental Brushes and Proxy Brushes

In addition to regular brushing and flossing, interdental brushes or proxy brushes can be incredibly useful for cleaning between braces, especially around the brackets and wires. These small, cone-shaped brushes can reach areas that traditional brushes might miss, effectively removing debris and plaque buildup. Use them gently to avoid damaging the wires or irritating your gums.

4. Mouthwash for Added Protection

Using a fluoride mouthwash can provide extra protection against cavities and strengthen your teeth during orthodontic treatment. Rinse with mouthwash after brushing and flossing to help dislodge particles and reduce bacteria in hard-to-reach places around your braces. Look for mouthwashes that are alcohol-free, as alcohol can cause dry mouth and discomfort.

5. Avoid Certain Foods

While wearing braces, it’s essential to avoid hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that can damage your braces or get stuck in them. Foods to steer clear of include chewy candies, popcorn, nuts, hard pretzels, and sticky snacks like caramel or taffy. Opt for softer foods that are less likely to damage brackets or wires, such as yogurt, smoothies, pasta, and soft fruits and vegetables.

6. Attend Regular Orthodontic Check-ups

Regular visits to your orthodontist are crucial for monitoring your progress and ensuring that your braces are adjusted correctly. These appointments also give your orthodontist an opportunity to clean your braces professionally and address any concerns or discomfort you may be experiencing. Follow their recommendations for adjustments and maintenance to achieve the best results from your orthodontic treatment.

7. Handle Discomfort Appropriately

It’s normal to experience some discomfort or soreness after adjustments to your braces. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Eating softer foods and using orthodontic wax to cover any irritating wires or brackets can also provide relief. If you experience persistent pain or discomfort, contact your orthodontist for guidance.

8. Maintain Good Oral Habits Beyond Braces

Orthodontic treatment is a temporary phase aimed at achieving a straighter smile, but good oral hygiene habits should continue long after your braces are removed. Brush and floss regularly, use fluoride toothpaste, and visit your dentist for routine cleanings and check-ups. This ongoing care will help preserve your newly aligned teeth and prevent future dental issues.


Caring for braces requires dedication and consistency, but the results—a healthy, beautiful smile—are well worth the effort. By following these tips for cleaning and caring for your braces, you can maintain optimal oral hygiene throughout your orthodontic journey. Remember, proper care of your braces not only ensures effective treatment but also contributes to overall dental health and well-being. Embrace the process, stay committed to your oral care routine, and soon enough, you’ll unveil a smile that reflects your commitment and dedication to dental health.