How to clean teeth with braces?

how to clean teeth with braces

Regular brushing and cleaning your teeth are critical to oral and general well-being. Plaque and tartar build-up on the teeth can lead to tooth decay (dental caries) and gum disease. Fixed orthodontic treatment (teeth with braces) puts you at a greater risk of dental caries (cavities) and gum disease because they make plaque removal difficult, requiring more time and effort to clean the teeth.

On average, fixed orthodontic treatment takes 1.5 to 2 years to get the desired results. The braces attract more plaque to the teeth and make them difficult to clean with a regular toothbrush. Prolonged plaque and tartar accumulation may cause demineralization of the teeth and initiate tooth decay. Therefore, you must take at least 8-10 min every morning and evening to clean your teeth.

Let’s dive into the tips that can help you maintain your oral hygiene:

Toothbrush selection 

Invest in some good orthodontic toothbrushes. Orthodontic brushes are soft and have v-shaped bristles that precisely fit between the brackets to clean the area around the brackets and wire.

The lowered bristles in the middle of the brushfield (head) provide improved cleaning efficacy than a flatter head. Toothbrushes with a flat profile have proven unsatisfactory for cleaning teeth with braces.

Also, a single tufted toothbrush can help you reach inaccessible or challenging areas in the mouth, such as bands on the second molar.

Manual vs. electric toothbrushes 

Electric toothbrushes are superior to manual brushes because they remove plaque deposits quickly. They offer significant advantages to orthodontic patients who require 8-10 minutes of brushing every morning and night. 

Electric toothbrushes exert controlled and low pressure on the teeth and brackets. On the contrary, manual brushes lack pressure sensors and are ,therefore, more prone to apply excessive pressure on the teeth and braces to clean them, which may debond the brackets, resulting in treatment delays and increased costs.

toothbrush replacement

American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 2-3 months or whenever you notice any signs of wear. Worn-out bristles can be damaging to the gum and teeth and aren’t capable of removing the plaque efficiently from the teeth.

How to clean teeth with braces – brushing technique?

Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45 angle along the teeth with bristles facing downwards above the wire and move your brush in mild circular strokes. These strokes will clean the plaque accumulated between the wire, teeth, and gums. 

Start your brushing with the larger toothbrush. Begin brushing by focusing one quadrant at a time so you don’t miss any tooth. The best approach is to do the teeth’s outside surface first, followed by the chewing and inner surfaces. Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle facing upwards below the wire and repeat similar strokes. 

It is recommended to use mild cleaning strokes during brushing, as excessive force could debond the bracket. Also, low pressure increases the interaction between the toothbrush bristles and tooth surfaces, allowing deeper penetration into the spaces between the teeth. Furthermore, excessive force bends the bristles too much, lowering their cleaning efficacy. 

The single tufted brush can be utilized for thorough cleaning around individual brackets.  

How to know if your teeth are clean with braces?

Plaque-disclosing tablets are small, colored chewable tablets containing a harmless dye that stains plaque. The plaque-disclosing tablets identify missed and problematic areas of plaque accumulation, thus improves your cleaning efficiency. Plaque-disclosing tablets benefit orthodontic patients because brackets, wires, and bands collect more plaque than teeth without braces.

How to use plaque-disclosing tablets?

Brush your teeth as described above. Next, apply Vaseline on your lips to avoid any staining on your lips. 

Chew one tablet for 30 seconds, swish it around the mouth, then spit it out. Do not swallow it . Rinse your mouth with water. The red or pink color on the teeth indicates plaque deposits. Thoroughly remove the stains by brushing and flossing.


In a nutshell, braces on the teeth put patients at a greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease because of incomplete plaque control. Orthodontic patients require at least 8-10 minutes of toothbrushing (morning and evening) to clean their teeth in comparison to teeth without braces.  

Investing in good orthodontic toothbrushes and proper brushing techniques maximize cleaning in these patients. Also, circular strokes with mild force are critical for effective plaque removal. 

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