Flossing with Braces
Flossing is important – a statement you’ve probably heard several times in the past. Together with brushing, flossing can help your teeth, gums, and oral health in all possible ways. Regular flossing can help remove plaque while also preventing it from building up to avoid the development of tartar.
Flossing after eating and before brushing your teeth can help improve your dental health. It can make your teeth look brighter because of the absence of plaque. Plus, you can remove food particles that brushing alone cannot take care of. Some of these particles are not even visible when you look in the mirror. Flossing can get rid of them, so your teeth look and feel cleaner.
Daily flossing is essential in keeping your teeth healthy. It also contributes to improving and maintaining your health. Periodontal or gum disease has been linked to higher heart disease risk. Mouth infections can lead to an increase in inflammatory substances present in the blood. As a result, blood clotting ensues, eventually slowing blood flow to the heart.
Others theorise that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream. With ongoing attacks, the cardiovascular system’s health is put to significant risk.
Do You Need to Floss When You Have Braces?
If you wear braces, cheer up! Although braces can be uncomfortable at times, you will soon be flashing that beautiful smile you’ve been waiting to have. Once the braces have done their job, you will have straighter teeth, which means it is easier to reach plaque between your teeth.
Your orthodontist may have told you to have good oral hygiene. But does it mean you should not just brush but also floss? Here at Oasis Orthodontics, we make sure that our patients know exactly what they need to do to take care of their teeth while wearing braces. Having straight teeth entails some work, and the most important job is to brush and floss regularly.
Brace-wearers should brush their teeth at least twice a day. However, it is often recommended that you brush after every meal to help remove food particles that may have gotten stuck under the wires and brackets.
Meanwhile, flossing can prepare your teeth before you brush. When you wear braces, food and plaque can enjoy more places to hide. They can accumulate faster and get trapped without you noticing. Wearing braces needs commitment. You should be willing to spend about three times longer than your normal oral care. It sounds a lot, but it’s definitely worth your time. Think about it; if you do not pay attention to your oral health and don’t practise proper oral hygiene, your risk of gum disease increases.
Gum disease is never a good thing, and it gets worse during the process of teeth realignment. You could find yourself with bleeding gums and sometimes, pain. That’s why flossing is essential. Plus, your teeth will look much better once your braces are removed.
Different Ways to Floss With Braces
When you talk about flossing with some of your friends and family, they will most likely think about the traditional way of flossing. It involves using waxed or unwaxed floss, which you wrap around your index fingers. Then you press it down in between two teeth. After that, you slide it up and down on both sides of the teeth before going to the next pair.
However, regular or traditional floss is not the only way to do it. Other products are available that you can use for flossing and removing food particles stuck between your teeth.
Here are the most popular ones:
Also known as a water flosser or its brand name, Waterpik, an oral irrigator is unique. It does not resemble standard floss at all. Instead, it uses a steady stream of water, which will clean the mouth, particularly between teeth and above the gumline. Some water flossers are cheap, but you can find ones that are at least $100.
An oral irrigator or water flosser is efficient in cleaning. You will probably spend about three to five minutes flossing your teeth thoroughly. When picking a water flosser, you may want to select those with tapered tips. That way, you can easily clean around brackets and the tiny space between teeth.
How do you floss with an oral irrigator? The process is simple because this device requires less manual work than traditional floss.
Follow these steps:
- Fill the flosser’s water reservoir. You may or may not add a drop or two of mouthwash. You can skip adding mouthwash since it is not necessary, although you can get some antibacterial benefits.
- Insert the tapered tip on the irrigator. Press on it to send water to the tip. You can check if the water pressure is good enough for you.
- Next step is to place the flosser’s tip in your mouth. When it’s on, water will splash out of your mouth. You can prevent this by closing your lips. Make sure to open them a little to drain water out of your mouth as you floss.
- Just like with traditional floss, you will move the water stream between your teeth and along the gumline.
Repeat the process until you are done with both the front and back of your teeth. When you are finished with flossing, you should store the water flosser properly. Make sure the water reservoir is empty, and the flosser tip is completely dry.
If traditional flossing and even water flossing are painful for you, you may want to consider using dental tapes instead. People who did not floss before they wore braces often have difficulty in flossing once they have braces. As a result, gums bleed easily and feel swollen because they are not used to the activity. Over time, it may no longer hurt once the gums recover and become healthier.
In the meantime, you can use dental tape, which is best for people with sensitive gums. Dental tape is a type of floss product that is smooth, spongy, and thin. It’s even thinner and wider than traditional floss. The process of using dental tape is just the same as your typical floss.
A floss threader is not a standalone tool. You will need to use it with a traditional floss product. A threader is actually a plastic tool that is quite useful when you have braces.
Here’s how you use it:
- Get your preferred dental floss and insert one end into the loop or eye of the threader.
- Pass the threader under and over your braces.
- Remove the threader, and you can start flossing gently up and down.
- Rethread after you are done and repeat the process.
Floss threaders look like plastic needles. They help you floss between teeth, which is often difficult for those who wear braces. You can quickly push the floss string into areas that are often difficult to reach.
Tips on How to Make Flossing Easier for Brace-wearers
Flossing with braces is indeed tricky. This is true when you’re using an ordinary floss. However, you can easily get the hang of it as you continue practising, mainly if you’re used to flossing before wearing braces.
Here are ways to make this part of your oral hygiene simpler and less of a hassle:
- Floss daily. You only need to floss once daily, which should take about two minutes.
- Pick the right floss product. Since we’re talking about ordinary floss, you will find yourself with options, particularly waxed and unwaxed versions. Which one is better? While both work the same way, the consensus is that waxed floss is better than unwaxed, especially for people wearing braces. Unwaxed is less smooth and may get caught in the wires, which can cut the floss into tiny pieces.
- Make sure the product is recommended for those wearing braces. Some products are specifically designed for brace-wearers. Self-threading floss is a good example. You can also use regular floss that comes with a floss threader, which you will put on top and below the wire.
- Learn how to floss correctly. When you have waxed floss, it is generally easier to pass it between teeth. However, you should still be careful. Thread it under the main wire first before you bring it down between two teeth. Never snap the floss. All you need to do is to move it up and down as gently as you can. Once done with the pair of teeth, remove the floss and move on to the next pair.
- You can use a threader for help. An orthodontic floss threader is a disposable tool that you can use with your floss. It’s quite handy since you can pull the floss through the teeth on top of the wire. The threader also makes it easier to reach the gum line.
- Use enough floss. About 45 to 46 cm is good enough for flossing your entire teeth.
For young people with braces, their parents need to guide them with flossing. It can be a daunting task for both teens and adults. However, with commitment and patience, flossing can easily become a part of daily oral hygiene to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile that lasts for a long time.