Four million people in America wear braces — and you or someone you love is one of them.

As such, you know that it can be a pain to perform the braces care required to protect and clean your teeth. But if you want that picture-perfect, healthy smile when the process ends, then you have to learn how to clean your teeth with braces.

The process will be a bit more involved than a regular tooth-brushing session. But once you master it, you’ll have no trouble cleaning your teeth. And, as we said, you’ll pave the way for perfectly aligned pearly whites when your braces come off.

Here’s what you’ll have to do.

1. Brush Carefully

You can’t just grab a toothbrush and go over your teeth anymore. Your braces present a big obstacle to your bristles, not to mention the fact that they cause damage to toothbrush heads, too.

So, you’ll have to make your tooth-brushing regimen a bit gentler so you can keep your teeth clean without damaging your brush or your braces. Start by rinsing out your mouth with water to loosen up and even remove food particles that have gotten stuck.

Then, grab your toothbrush and load it up with fluoride toothpaste. This formula keeps your teeth strong against cavities. Bring the brush to your gum line and hold it at a 45-degree angle so that the bristles can reach your tooth without scraping the metal brackets and braces.

Move slowly, especially if you’re just learning how to brush with braces. You’ll get the hang of it quickly, and you’ll be able to tell when your teeth are or aren’t cleaned properly.

Be sure that you have a toothbrush with you so that you can brush after eating, whether you have a snack or a full meal. And swap out your toothbrush frequently. Bent and damaged bristles won’t be able to clean your teeth effectively, so get a new toothbrush whenever they start to look worn.

2. Floss

No matter what kind of braces you choose, flossing will be vital to keeping your teeth clean, too.

Of course, if you have metal brackets and braces on your teeth, it’s a bit harder to run floss between them. Most people rely on a threader to floss when they have orthodontics. This tool makes it easier to get between the implements to clean the teeth.

Parents may want to step in and help younger braces-wearers with this step. Some kids don’t have the coordination to get the floss beneath the braces wire, so be prepared to do it for them.

3. Rinse Out Your Mouth

Rinsing your mouth after brushing can whisk away any lingering debris. Using a fluoride rinse does this job handily, and it helps strengthen your teeth against cavities, as previously discussed.

Braces can sometimes hurt the insides of your mouth — the metal pieces can scrape and cut your mouth. If you have such an injury, try a peroxide rinse to clean out the wound and promote healing. But only use such rinses as needed, sticking to fluoride formulas for the majority of the time.

4. Follow a Braces-Friendly Diet

You can further keep your teeth clean by eating foods approved by your orthodontist. Some bites have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth and braces. Not only can they damage your orthodontics, but they can adversely affect your oral hygiene if they linger for too long.

So, eat foods that are braces-safe. Soft foods tend to be the best options here — things like yogurt, pasta, oatmeal, cooked veggies and cheese are easy to chew through.

Meanwhile, avoid foods that tend to get stuck in your teeth, such as popcorn. You may be able to floss out kernels, but harder pieces and seeds can cause damage to your metal brackets.

On that note, avoid anything that seems too hard or too sticky. Gum, taffy, ice, pretzels, bagels… these chewy, crunchy foods can break your braces and get stuck between your chompers. Save them for the day you get your braces off — it’ll make them taste even better to eat them sans metal hardware on your teeth.

5. Maintain Your Retainer, Too

After you get your braces off, you’ll still have some orthodontic hygiene to which you’ll have to tend.

You’ll continue to wear your retainer to maintain the results of your braces. Most people will have to wear it nightly for a while, then reduce their wear over time.

No matter how often you wear your retainer, remember that it is a dental implement. It will sit in your mouth overnight. Therefore it, along with your teeth, will have to be cleaned and brushed in the morning.

You can clean your retainer by soaking it in mouthwash whenever you aren’t wearing it. This will fight germs and keep it fresh until it’s time to wear it again.

Explore All of Your Orthodontic Options Before Learning How to Clean Your Teeth With Braces

Now that you’ve learned how to clean your teeth with braces, you will feel one of two ways. You could be ready to start your regime and excited to see your new smile. Or, you might be wondering if you have any other orthodontic options that require less of a cleaning effort.

If you fall into the latter category, you may want to look into Invisalign. You can pop the clear aligners in and out, which means you can maintain your usual dental hygiene routine. Click here to learn more about it.

Whichever orthodontic option you choose, though, we’re here to help — and make your dream smile a reality. A consultation can help you decide if you should get braces or Invisalign. Call us today to get started.