Skip to main content

Interdental Brushing for People with Braces

By March 29, 2022September 9th, 2022Orthodontics

Proper brushing techniques are the key to maintaining a healthy smile with braces. Read this blog to learn how interdental brushing can improve your oral health.

Orthodontic treatment can make it difficult for a patient to clean their teeth. This can lead to plaque build-up around the teeth, brackets, and wires. To counteract this, the orthodontist will give specific instructions on how to brush properly to prevent cavities, gum disease, and dental stains. In addition to using a traditional toothbrush, he may also recommend interdental brushing another highly effective method for maintaining a healthy smile.

An interdental brush (IDB) is a small, specially designed brush used to clean between the teeth or brackets where a traditional toothbrush can’t reach. Those without braces use an interdental brush to clean between the teeth, but orthodontic patients also use them to clean around and between the brackets and wires on their teeth.

Read this blog to learn how to use an interdental brush properly and how interdental brushing is beneficial for people with braces.

How To Use an Interdental Brush

Before purchasing an IDB, be sure to ask your orthodontist which size will work best for your smile. Interdental brushes come in various sizes—correlated by color— to benefit all types of smiles.

Orthodontic patients should use the interdental brush one time per day after brushing with a traditional toothbrush.

To properly utilize an interdental brush, follow these instructions:

  1. Move the appliance up and down on either side of the brackets
  2. Pass the brush along the orthodontic wire when moving from one tooth to another, continuing to move it up and down
  3. Rinse after each use
  4. Replace the brush when it begins to look worn

The Benefits of Interdental Brushing

Aside from helping patients maintain good oral health, an interdental brush provides several benefits, especially when compared to dental floss.

The advantages of interdental brushing include:

  • Easy use
  • Patient compliance
  • Higher motivation
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Safe to use

Often, orthodontists instruct patients on using dental floss to clean between their teeth and brackets. It can be a complicated process that many patients won’t give a second thought about when they leave the orthodontist’s office.

IDBs offer all of the same advantages along with the simplicity of use. Patients with dexterity issues have a greater appreciation for this appliance because there are variations of the brush with a long, bent handle.

brushing with braces

More Ways to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Braces offer so many benefits and provide patients with beautiful smiles! However, braces also require proper care and responsibility. To ensure you have the best orthodontic experience, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid chewy, crunchy, sticky, and hard food
  • Avoid foods that require biting into
  • Do eat soft foods like dairy, bread, grains, seafood, cooked vegetables, and fruits
  • Rinse with salt water when you’re mouth feels tender or sore
  • Learn how to fix a loose wire
  • Utilize wax to relieve irritation
  • Wear a mouthguard

If you follow these tips and other specific instructions from your orthodontist, you’re sure to have a great orthodontic experience. Along with having a beautiful smile at the end of treatment, you’ll also have a healthy one!

The Importance Of Oral Hygiene

It doesn’t matter if you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces or not. Oral hygiene is essential, more so than patients tend to believe. Dental hygiene is vital to an individual’s overall health and well-being.

Untreated oral diseases may increase the risk of adverse health conditions. Thus, maintaining good oral hygiene is important in improving your oral health and overall well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Poor oral health is associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Oral disease is also associated with risk behaviors such as using tobacco and consuming sugary foods and beverages”.

It’s important to think of your mouth as the door that leads to the internal parts of your body. Your mouth also serves as a starting point for detecting early symptoms of systemic diseases. Diabetes, for example, often starts to become noticeable with a mouth lesion or gum infection. Furthermore, patients who have periodontal disease have a greater risk of suffering from heart disease.

Lastly, poor oral hygiene can also be a determining factor in the cause of:

  • Bacterial Pneumonia
  • Infective Endocarditis
  • Cancer
  • Sepsis

As you can see, keeping your teeth and mouth clean can help you to have a beautiful smile and prevent many severe health conditions. However, don’t be alarmed; all you need to do is keep a good oral hygiene routine.

How To Keep A Good Oral Hygiene Routine

At Markham Orthodontics, we understand that keeping a good oral hygiene routine can be difficult and maybe even confusing, even more so while you have braces. So, let’s take a look at some things you can do and how to do them correctly.

Remember to Brush Your Teeth

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, taking at least about two minutes to do a great job.
  • Don’t forget to clean your tongue, which harbors bacteria, with a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
  • Use the proper equipment. Always try to use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. You can also use an electric or battery-operated toothbrush if preferred—polish your technique. Gently brush with circular short back-and-forth motions. Brushing too hard or with hard bristles can hurt your gums.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months

Don’t Forget About Dental Flossing

It doesn’t matter if you brush or floss first. What matters is you use flossing to reach the bacteria in the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gum line. However, when you floss, keep in mind:

  • Use about 18 inches of dental floss. Guide the floss between your teeth using a rubbing motion.
  • Take it one tooth at a time. Slide the floss into the space between your gum and tooth. Use the floss to gently rub the side of the tooth in an up-and-down motion.

Don’t Skip Routine Appointments

Keeping routine appointments is very important. Make sure always to keep the scheduled appointments. During these appointments, your dentists will solve not only current problems but also prevent new ones.

  • Usually, we would recommend you have a cleaning and checkup twice a year or every six months, to be exact.

How Your Choice of Food and Drinks Affects You

Using an interdental brush or choosing the right brushes for braces will improve your oral care routine. However, when it comes to dental care, we are strong believers in the power that prevention has on overcorrection.

You should always pay close attention to your dental hygiene routine and what you can do to improve it, but another area where you should spend some time is on planning your meals.

We’re not saying you should meal prep for the entire week, but you should gradually move away from some snacks and beverages that could damage your braces or hurt your dental health.

As the best orthodontist Natomas, Sacramento residents can find, we will share with you a comprehensive approach to your specialized orthodontic care. One major part is your diet during braces. What we choose to eat or the foods to avoid during braces is as important, if not more, than what we do to clean our mouths after a meal.

What Foods to Avoid With Braces?

These are some of the foods you should avoid at all times during your treatment with braces:

  • Popcorn,
  • Nuts:
    • Almonds,
    • Cashews,
    • Peanuts,
    • Pecans,
    • Pistachios,
  • Hard taco shells,
  • Sticky and hard candy,
    • Licorice,
  • Chewing gum,
  • Ice,
  • Corn chips,
  • Pretzels,
  • Hard cookies or crackers,
  • Sticky or hard chocolate,
  • Fibrous, hard, or raw vegetables:
    • Celery,
    • Carrots,
    • Corn on the cob,
  • Hard fruits:
    • Apples,
    • Pears,
  • Hardshell bread,
  • Croutons,
  • Pure black coffee,
  • Black tea,
  • Red wine,
  • White wine,
  • Tough meat.

The reason behind this recommendation is that such foods may break into smaller pieces or fibers that will get caught between your brackets and archwire or behind the brackets and peel them away causing some orthodontic emergencies. Some of the beverages on the list will cause staining, so users of clear braces or clear aligners will want to avoid them.

If you want to know how to identify orthodontic emergencies and what to do about them, click here.

There are other foods and drinks you should avoid for the first few days of your treatment with traditional braces and the days following an adjustment:

  • Ice cream,
  • Frozen yogurt,
  • Iced tea,
  • Hot soups:
    • Minestrone
    • Chicken noodle soup,
  • Hot tea
  • Hot coffee
  • Iced coffee

As you can see, most of the items on this second list are not necessarily beverages or foods that will damage your orthodontic appliances, but they will undoubtedly cause discomfort as your teeth might feel sore or be sensitive to heat and cold following an adjustment.

Which Is Better Floss or Interdental Brushes?

There is no straight answer about which is better; it mostly comes down to a personal choice. One thing that’s important is both dental floss and your choice of interdental brush.

One thing is certain: interdental brushes and dental floss help reduce the plaque-forming around your teeth and any chances of developing gum disease. Their purpose is the same and as they remove food debris from in between your teeth, they will help discourage harmful bacteria growth.

Some patients find interdental brushes to be better for their braces as they may have difficulties maneuvering around their mouth with dental floss wrapped around their fingers. Some senior patients might prefer an interdental brush over dental floss.

There is also fatigue associated with the adoption of additional oral care techniques. Many patients are tired of hearing about dental floss and don’t pay much attention to it. However, the novelty of interdental brushes seems to boost the attention that these little brushes for braces deserve.

One point in favor of interdental brushes is they reduce bleeding gums. Even if you have no gum disease or gingivitis problems, some patients might still see their gums bleed when they use dental floss. The small interdental brushes for braces help clean your gums without causing additional bleeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

When to Floss Teeth?

The ADA ( American Dental Association) recommends brushing twice a day and cleaning between teeth with floss (or another interdental cleaner) once a day. However, if you have braces, you should floss after every meal, and we have a step-by-step guide you should check out.

Is It Better to Floss Before or After Brushing?

It’s best to floss before brushing, as flossing can help remove food particles stuck between your teeth and also the plaque that could form in your gum line.

How Many Times a Day Should You Brush and Floss Your Teeth?

It is recommended you try to brush after every meal, count snacks, and floss at least once a day. However, most people floss at night before bedtime. Still, if you have orthodontic braces, consider brushing and flossing after every meal to avoid dental health problems.

Should You Floss Every Time You Brush Your Teeth?

You should floss your teeth at least once a day. However, if you feel you have food wedged between your teeth, you should floss right away to avoid infection or inflammation. If you are wearing dental braces, you should brush and floss every time you finish a meal.

Can Dental Floss Damage Teeth?

Yes, but only when done vigorously or with too much pressure. Gums can excessively bleed; over-flossing could destroy your gum line. For best results, make sure you follow your orthodontist’s oral hygiene suggestions. Be gentle as you pick up the habit.

Call Us Today For a Free Consultation at Markham Orthodontics

At Markham Orthodontics, Dr. David Markham and Dr. Steven Scott provide excellent, gentle care to patients of all ages. Our goal is to help patients achieve a beautiful, healthy smile that they can’t wait to show off.

Call our friendly dental team today.


Free Consult