Your Guide to Brushing with Braces

Are you new to braces and wondering how to brush your teeth around the brackets and wires? You’re not alone! Learning to adapt to your new orthodontic lifestyle might take some time, but with the right tools, proper technique, and the help of the Sturgill Orthodontics team, you’ll be set for success in no time. So, without further ado, here’s your guide to brushing with braces. 

Brushing with Braces: Step-by-Step

You’ve been brushing your teeth since you were a kid, so you’re already an expert at keeping your smile happy and healthy. However, now that you have a brand-new appliance to maneuver around with your toothbrush, it doesn’t hurt to “brush” up on some tips and tricks from our team. Follow these steps to get the most out of your oral hygiene routine.

Step #1: Get the Right Tools

Having an orthodontic toolkit is a must for all new braces-wearers, and that includes the right toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth rinse, and floss. To start, we recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush. The soft bristles are flexible enough to clean around your brackets and wires without harming your appliance or your teeth. You should pair this with a fluoride toothpaste that will strengthen your enamel and protect your teeth from cavities as well. 

We also recommend investing in a water flosser and/or floss threaders. Floss threaders work like a soft needle to guide the floss between your teeth and help you target the hard-to-reach areas where food particles might linger. A water flosser can also work wonders for braces patients, as it uses a targeted stream of water to dislodge leftover food particles that may remain between the teeth. 

Step #2: Floss First

Although everyone has their own oral hygiene order of operations, we recommend flossing first. Using your water flosser or floss threader, your first job is to loosen up any leftover bits of food that might be stuck between your teeth or around your brackets to pave the path for brushing. 

Step #3: Rinse Your Mouth

Again, many patients may be used to rinsing their mouth after brushing their teeth, but when brushing with braces, rinsing first can go a long way. Use mouthwash or a simple sip of water to rinse your mouth and dislodge any food particles before brushing. You’ll thank us for this tip later! 

Step #4: Brush with Intent

Now that you’re ready to brush your teeth with braces, it’s all about the angles. Position your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums to help the bristles reach the space between the gums and the braces where plaque is most likely to accumulate. Then, use small, gentle, circular motions to brush the outside of your teeth, making sure to cover each tooth individually and brush above and below the brackets.

Don’t forget to brush the inner and chewing surfaces of your teeth as well as the tongue for the best results. 

Step #5: Check Your Work

Now that you’re done, it’s time to admire your work in the mirror. Check to see if you have any remaining food particles that you missed while brushing, and make sure that you brushed every tooth. If you’re good to go, then you can move on! If you see anything left over, be sure to use a mouth rinse, floss, or even re-brush your teeth to remove anything that could cause plaque buildup later. 

Your Guide to Brushing with Braces

What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth with Braces

We hate to bring up the nightmare scenario, but we have to warn you! There are more than a few reasons why brushing your teeth with a new routine is so important. Fortunately, you can prevent all of of them by brushing with braces using the steps above. 


Think about it: with all those brackets and wires in your mouth, there’s a lot more surface area for cavity-causing bacteria to hide. Leftover sugar and acid can cause this bacteria to eat away at your teeth, causing cavities that can be a hassle to fix during treatment. 

White Spots

The main reason you’re getting braces is to have a perfect pearly white smile when we remove them – but if you don’t brush your teeth properly, you could develop white spots, also known as decalcification. These spots can form around the bracket, making it clear that you had brackets on your teeth during treatment, or they could simply make the coloring of your teeth appear uneven. 

Bad Breath 

This one might be obvious, but it’s obvious for a reason! Letting food particles and plaque accumulate in your mouth can cause a stench at any time, but you’re at an even higher risk for developing plaque-related bad breath while you have braces if you don’t brush properly. 

Treatment Time

Here’s the worst-case scenario of all: not taking care of your oral hygiene could mean you have to wear braces for longer than you originally thought! Because oral hygiene issues like cavities could require us to temporarily remove brackets and wires while your dentist corrects the problem, we’ll have to add on time to the back end of your journey to make up for it – and that’s no fun at all! 

Your Guide to Brushing with Braces

Say Cheese! 

At Sturgill Orthodontics, we believe that orthodontic treatment is about more than just a monthly appointment with Dr. Sturgill, Dr. Williams, or Dr. Harper. It’s about helping your child get the most out of their treatment every step of the way. Brushing with braces is only one way we help – but check out our other blogs for more information

And if you or your child are ready to get started on the straight smile of their dreams, schedule a free consultation in Johnson City or Norton and come see us!