Am I Brushing Enough?

So much emphasis is placed on brushing and flossing after you get braces that people start to overthink the process. They start to worry that they aren’t brushing enough or flossing the proper way. Luckily, the staff at Melbourne Orthodontics is here to help.

We have taken the most common questions and concerns patients have about brushing and flossing and provided easy-to-understand answers that will help you keep your smile healthy while wearing braces.

How Much Brushing is Enough?

Ideally, you would brush your teeth immediately after eating. This means if you ate five small meals, you would brush five times a day and if you ate two meals a day, you would brush twice a day. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the time or ability to brush after every meal which is why dentists and orthodontists recommend brushing two a day.

The best times of the day to brush are right before bed and first thing in the morning. Why these times you may be asking? These times are recommended because plaque tends to build up in your mouth while you are sleeping. The plaque builds up because your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva to remove it while you are sleeping.

Focus on the Quality of Brushing Not Quantity

You could brush 10, 15, or even 20 times a day, but if you aren’t brushing properly that brushing is pointless as your teeth will never get clean and plaque won’t be removed. Orthodontists and dental staff recommend patients focus more on the quality of the brushing, not the quantity.

Doing the following things will make sure you are properly brushing your teeth in a way that removes as much plaque as possible:

  • Don’t use too much toothpaste. Too much toothpaste can give you a false sense of accomplishment while brushing as it creates a lot of foam. This can cause you to believe you are brushing better than you really are brushing.
  • Use the right amount of toothpaste. The right amount of toothpaste for teenagers and adults is a tiny pea-sized blob that is smeared on top of your toothbrush.
  • Brush for a full two minutes
  • Make sure to brush every surface of your mouth including the tops and sides of the teeth, gums, and even the tongue.
  • Make sure to brush around the wires and brackets of your braces.  Angle the toothbrush so that the bristles can reach under the wires.  Spend more time brushing on the gum side of the braces, as this is the area that more plaque tends to accumulate.
  • Don’t rinse with water after brushing. Rinsing immediately after brushing can cause you to remove the fluoride from the toothpaste that is applied to the teeth. Only use a very small amount of water if you do need to rinse and make sure you don’t swish, gargle, or drink the water.
  • Rinse with a fluoride rinse (such as the ACT brand) prior to going to sleep and again do not rinse with water after.
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush
  • Replace the toothbrush every three months

Properly Floss at Least Once a Day

Flossing when you are wearing braces is time-consuming and difficult, but it has to be done. Use these tips to make flossing with braces easier:

  • Use dental floss that is waxed or specifically made for cleaning around braces
  • Avoid snapping or pulling the floss. Instead, gently move the floss in an up and down motion.
  • Use the proper amount of dental floss. We recommend approximately 18 inches as that provides you with enough to floss the entire mouth without having to reuse sections
  • Carefully thread the floss under the wires. Don’t rush flossing or it could lead to problems with the appliances.  We give you special flossing tools the day you get your braces to assist with threading the floss under the wires.

When you get your braces at Melbourne Orthodontics, we will walk you through how to properly brush and floss. While you are wearing your braces, should you have any questions or need a refresher on how to properly brush and floss our friendly staff will be there to help. Just give us a call and we will answer any questions you may have about brushing or flossing with braces.