Maintaining proper oral hygiene is a challenge at any given time. But it is particularly challenging for people with braces.

Metal brackets and wires that provide additional retention spaces for food debris accumulation and plaque formation.

Flossing helps in scraping off the debris and plaque from between the teeth, especially with braces and wires in the way. (1)

Flossing is a step which should not be skipped in any case as it is difficult for toothbrushes to reach between the brackets and wires.

Proper orthodontic care is necessary to achieve a healthy, natural smile.

There are four types of flossing methods which prove to be a great help during your orthodontic treatment.

These are the traditional flossing, using a floss threader, an oral irrigator or water flosser and using other cleaning tools like dental tape, etc.

Types of orthodontic braces and their arrangement

Let us see different types of orthodontic braces and their arrangement. Orthodontic brackets are of three kinds such as metallic brackets, ceramic brackets, and plastic brackets.

  • Metallic brackets are relatively inexpensive and recyclable after sterilizing. They are aesthetically not pleasing as patients tend to have a metallic smile. They can cause teeth stains as they corrode.
  • Ceramic brackets are aesthetically more pleasing than metal brackets. They resemble the tooth color and also resist staining in the mouth. These brackets can be very brittle and often feel bulky in the mouth.
  • Plastic brackets are available in tooth-colored or transparent forms. These brackets tend to stain very easily and discolor while drinking coffee or smoking.

In the lingual arrangement, the brackets are placed towards the lingual or palatal side (towards the tongue). This arrangement is highly aesthetic and pleasing to the patient. It has the disadvantage of providing poor access to brushes and floss for maintaining oral hygiene.

Braces are primarily arranged according to two methods and they are buccal arrangement and lingual arrangement.

In buccal arrangements, the braces and wire are placed towards the front of the teeth. This arrangement affords easy access during brushing and flossing. But patients do not find this arrangement aesthetically pleasing.

Why is it vital to floss with orthodontic braces?

Orthodontic braces help in achieving a perfect smile that we all dream. But orthodontic treatment can be a tedious and time-consuming process.

The braces and wires provide for additional space for retention of food, plaque, and bacteria accumulation which can cause gingivitis, the recession of the gum line, and even caries in the teeth. All these will eventually lead to the failure of orthodontic treatment.

Ways to floss with orthodontic braces

The following methods help in flossing with orthodontic braces –

Traditional flossing

Though traditional flossing is difficult with braces, it is not entirely impossible. You should use waxed floss in place of non-waxed one. Non-waxed floss tends to get caught in the brackets and tear off.

Dentists and orthodontists advice using an 18-24 inch piece of floss for every tooth.

Start by wrapping both ends of the floss around the index fingers and slide it between the teeth surface. You have to be careful of the main wire.

Move the floss in a downward U-shaped fashion and scrape the plaque and food debris from between the teeth. If you do it in front of a mirror, then it will of great help as it will be quick.

Slide the floss out carefully and proceed to the newt tooth in the same manner with a new piece of floss.

Using a floss threader

  • A Floss threader is a small, indispensable tool which helps in speeding up the process of flossing. It is a small plastic tool which helps to pull the floss between the teeth in the same way as threading a needle.
  • It is available at all small and big pharmacies and also with dentists and orthodontists.
  • After the floss is threaded between the teeth, it is used in the same manner as in traditional flossing.

Using an oral irrigator

  • An oral irrigator or a water flosser is a unique tool which uses a steady stream of water to clean between the teeth and below the gingival margin.
  • Brands like Waterpik are available for about 50$. There are more expensive models also available which come with advanced features. There are special tips available for orthodontic uses which are more tapered than the usual tips. It helps in reaching between the brackets and wires more efficiently than the general tips.
  • The oral irrigator consists of a water reservoir in which water is filled. An indicator line shows the level to which the water should be filled.
  • The reservoir can be filled with mouthwash along with water to increase its antibacterial protection and prevent gingivitis.
  • It should not be used in place of flossing but rather as a complement to it. It helps in flushing out any debris or plaque from areas which are difficult to reach.
  • It is also helpful in gingival stimulation and maintaining the health of gingival to restore gums that are inflamed or receded.

Using tools other than flossing

Flossing can be difficult in regular use, mainly if one isn’t used to it. Also, flossing can be painful in some cases. So, there are tools that can be used in place of dental floss.

Dental Tape

Dental tape is a particular type of floss which is thinner and wider than regular floss.

It is useful for people with sensitive or painful gums or for people who are not used to flossing traditionally. It is used in the same manner as traditional flossing.

Proxy brush

Proxy brushes are small, pointed brushes with brushes resembling a pine tree. Their unique design helps in cleaning behind the braces.

Proxy brushes should not be considered a replacement for flossing but rather as a complement to it.

Orthodontic brush

An Orthodontic brush is a special type of brush with V-shaped bristles which helps cleaning behind and between the braces.

It should not be used instead of flossing but with it to improve oral hygiene.

Conclusion

Orthodontic treatment helps in achieving a natural and beautiful smile. But it requires round the clock maintenance of proper oral hygiene to prevent gingivitis and formation of cavities.

Proper brushing twice a day along with flossing helps in removing plaque and food debris from your orthodontic braces. If they are not removed, then left out food debris, etc. can lead to any dental problems in the future.

Flossing is a challenging task for anyone who is not used to it, especially children. Parents and guardians should guide the children in the proper technique to floss, especially when they have braces to prevent caries and gingivitis in the future.

Dental care with braces can be time-consuming, but the results are very satisfying if you are looking to achieve a beautiful and dazzling smile.

 Even if you are using orthodontic braces, you must do regular flossing. Flossing helps in removing food debris, plaque, etc. from braces.