How To Clean & Care For Braces

Cleaning and caring for braces properly can come with a learning curve — Follow this list to learn everything you should stick to and what to avoid while wearing braces! 

Just as before your braces were put on, daily hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash are the building blocks of ensuring the prolonged health of your teeth and gums. 

Be prepared to take extra time and care for your mouth after you start your treatment. Properly caring for your braces will set you on the path to the smile of your dreams.

Exercise Proper Brushing Technique

Cleaning and caring for braces starts with proper brushing. Braces create many tiny gaps between the appliance and your teeth, where bits of food can easily become lodged. If these bits aren't removed, they can create stains on the teeth and allow plaque to build up, leading to other dental problems.

Here’s how to clean your teeth with braces:


  • To start, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line, ensuring the bristles make contact with the wires and pins of your braces. 
  • Brush from the top down to clean the wires efficiently. 
  • Next, using small circular motions, brush the outside and inside surfaces of your teeth, followed by brushing the chewing surfaces with a light back-and-forth motion. 
  • Lastly, be sure to brush the spaces between the brackets and your gums gently — this is a prime spot for trapped food particles to hide inside your mouth. 

In addition to basic brushing, interproximal brushes are special tools that are also designed to help remove debris, particularly ones stuck in the back corners of the mouth. This cleaning aid has small bristles that allow it to access areas that other dental tools may not be able to reach.

Brushing braces
Woman cleaning her teeth's with dental floss in bathroom

Floss Daily

Don’t forget to floss! In order to keep the spaces between your teeth clean, you also need to floss at least once per day. However, much like brushing, flossing your teeth correctly is a technique that you must change a little after your braces are placed. 

Regardless of whether your dental system is clear or metal, your orthodontist will likely recommend specific kinds of flossing tools to make cleaning around your braces much more manageable. 

Floss threaders are flexible plastic tools that allow the floss to be more easily pulled between the spaces of your teeth and the archwires of your dental system. Insert the floss into the threader (similar to threading a needle), and use the tool to help glide the floss between your teeth.

Utilize Extra Dental Tools

Water flossers (commonly seen under brand names like Waterpiks or Water Jets) are not a replacement for flossing. However, they can be great tools for removing trapped bits of food particles and are generally a good addition to a more thorough routine in caring for your braces.

These oral irrigators create a concentrated stream of water that can be aimed between the teeth to remove debris easily and clean areas that brushing or flossing may have missed. It may take a few tries to get comfortable using a water flosser, but many enjoy the ultra-clean feeling these devices provide.

Close-up of a smiling woman face with braces cleaning her teeth with oral irrigator.

Avoid Certain Foods

Limiting the intake of foods with excess sugar (like ice cream, candies, and soda) is an essential part of avoiding preventable dental issues, such as tooth decay. When your braces are put on, you must take additional steps to avoid certain foods that can damage your braces and extend your orthodontic treatment. 

Foods that are excessively hard or sticky are the main culprits that cause harm to your orthodontic appliance. You should avoid sweets like toffees, caramels, hard candies, licorice, and taffy, as they can easily get stuck between your teeth and braces. Likewise, avoid harder foods such as nuts, seeds, pretzels, beef jerky, pizza crusts, bagels, and popcorn.

In addition to sweets and snacks, you must also take some precautions with healthier foods: bone-in and tough cuts of meat (like steak or pork), chicken wings, whole pieces of fruit, and even raw, fibrous vegetables can also cause harm to your braces. 

Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are still an important part of your diet, but be sure to cut these foods into smaller pieces to prevent damage.

Along with avoiding certain foods, quitting chewing habits is also important. For example, chewing on pencils, your nails, gum, and ice will damage your braces and even risk chipping your teeth.

Learn the Skills to Cleaning and Caring for Braces

Staying committed to a daily practice of brushing and flossing is the best way to care for your braces and will teach you better hygiene habits that you can continue when they come off! 

Following these guidelines for how to maintain oral hygiene with braces is the best way to ensure that your experience wearing braces is pleasant and comfortable. . 

During your complimentary exam, we will teach you how to take care of teeth with braces and answer any questions you have about treatment. Schedule your exam by calling our office at 559-325-3300, texting our office, or booking your appointment online