Girl holding manual toothbrushes in multiple colors.

Brushing Your Teeth With Braces

Braces aren’t just for kids and teens anymore. Having metal brackets, bands, and wires in your mouth can complicate how you brush your teeth, but brushing and flossing properly when you have braces is critical to your short- and long-term oral health. Here are some tips for how to brush with braces.

How to Brush Your Teeth with Braces

More people than ever are improving their bites and smiles by getting braces, including adults – some of whom already had braces as a child. Whether you have clear braces or traditional metal ones, the added gear in your mouth means you need to pay better attention to your brushing, flossing, and general oral hygiene.

Brushing your teeth with braces isn’t too different from brushing teeth without braces. You still want to brush at least two minutes at a time, two times per day, typically in the morning after you awaken and in the evening before you go to sleep. With braces, you may want to up the frequency of the tooth brushing to three times per day, or after every meal. It can be easier for food particles and debris to become trapped around the brackets or under wires, which can be unsightly, lead to bad breath, or increase your chances of developing cavities.

Here are some general tips for brushing your teeth with braces:

  • Use an enamel-strengthening fluoride toothpaste for protection from tooth decay while you have braces.
  • Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth, with the bristles pointed downward or upward toward your gums.
  • Brush with short circular or back-and-forth strokes, paying attention to one tooth at a time.
  • Brush the outside, inside, and chewing surface of each tooth. Hold your toothbrush vertically and move up-and-down when brushing the inner surface.
  • Spit excess saliva and toothpaste into the sink. Do not rinse with water if you want to keep the fluoride from your toothpaste more active in your mouth.
Using electric toothbrush to brush teeth with braces.

Toothbrushes and Taking Care of Your Braces

When you have braces, you may need to change the type of toothbrush you use. For proper brushing with braces, look for:

  • Softer bristles that are able to move around the brackets and won’t irritate sensitive teeth or gums.
  • Bristles shaped in a “V” with longer bristles on the outside and shorter on the inside make it easier for bristles to get to food particles around brackets.
  • More frequent toothbrush replacement. When you have braces, the wires, sharp edges, and pokey bits tend to wear out your toothbrush sooner. While most dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months when you don’t have braces, you’ll need to change your toothbrush more often with braces, usually every 2 months.
  • Electric brushes with spinning heads do an excellent job cleaning around all the hard-to-reach places that braces create. Many produce thousands of brushing movements per minute, which is impossible for even the most practiced manual tooth brusher.
Spinbrush™ PRO+ Extra White Toothbrush.

How to Brush Your Braces with an Electric Toothbrush

Many people ask, “can I use an electric toothbrush with braces?” The answer is yes, you not only can, but you probably should. There are benefits to spinning and vibrating or sonic electric toothbrushes that make them superior for brushing your teeth with braces.

  • Deeper and more effective cleaning – Electric toothbrushes force fluid between the teeth, helping to wash away food debris and plaque. Because of the spinning or vibrating motion that moves each bristle, electric brushes can reach all the nooks and crannies braces can create as well.
  • Variable cleaning modes – Many electric toothbrushes allow you to customize the brushing action. You may be able to adjust the speed, direction of the bristles, and more. If your teeth are sore after an orthodontic treatment, many electric brushes have a sensitive mode. It’s important to keep up your brushing routine and take care of your teeth, even when your mouth is sore from your braces. Electric toothbrushes can help.
  • Better brushing technique – Electric toothbrushes take much of the guesswork or variability out of tooth brushing. You can avoid many cavities and gum damage with proper brushing. Using an electric toothbrush with your braces means you’ll be brushing better, every time, thanks to the brush’s spinning bristles and other features.
  • Timers – Most electric toothbrushes have a 2-minute timer that lets you know when you’ve completed your recommended two minutes of brushing time.
  • Replacement heads and batteries – Since you’ll need to be monitoring your bristles for signs of wear when you’re brushing with braces, the ability to swap out toothbrush heads is another feature many people enjoy.
Man smiling with braces.

Different Types of Braces and How to Care for Them

Orthodontic treatment is constantly changing and new methods for straightening teeth and correcting bites continue to arise. Whether you have brackets or bands, mini-braces, or removable trays, wires, springs, rubber bands, appliances, tooth-colored veneers, or fun and funky colors on your bonds, all types of braces require intensive care and attention to your tooth brushing and flossing.

The good news?

  • Brushing your teeth with braces isn’t too difficult if you get the right tools.
  • A good, soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric brush with spinning or vibrating bristles will go a long way to keeping your mouth clean and healthy while you have braces.
  • Increasing the frequency of your brushing and flossing during your braces treatment will help remove food debris and prevent plaque build-up.
  • Using an enamel-strengthening, anti-cavity, fluoride toothpaste will help keep your teeth strong and fight decay.

Braces are temporary. You’ll be out of your braces before you know it, and showing off your new smile. Use a whitening toothpaste after your braces are removed to help get rid of any lingering stains. Try Arm & Hammer™ Advance White™ Extreme Whitening toothpaste with the stain-fighting power of baking soda and peroxide.