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Flossing With Braces

Many patients, when fitted with braces, later find trying to floss to be an ordeal. Even knowing the importance of flossing, many patients, especially younger ones will give up and quit flossing altogether. If you have a child with braces, it is very important to their continued oral health that they continue to floss. After all, bacteria can build up and start causing decay in a matter of weeks.

Teenagers, being stubborn at times, need extra motivation to follow their oral care routine. Despite what they may tell you, it actually is possible to floss with braces (see: for more information). But, there are some rules everyone wearing braces should follow to get the most out of flossing.

We all know that time is a very precious commodity, but brushing your teeth is not the time to rush. You only get one set of teeth, so protecting them is a big deal. When you get braces, be prepared to devote 3x as much time to your dental hygiene routine. Working around the bands, wires, and brackets takes extra care. If you have small children you may want to time them to make sure they have devoted enough time to flossing and brushing. Or, you may even want to floss for them (visit: for more information about my options for children).

When flossing for your kids, make sure they are seated and not moving. Easier said than done, I know, but offering a reward can be enough motivation to soothe their restlessness. Putting on their favorite movie, TV show, or music should distract them long enough for you to give their teeth a once over.

Not all floss is the same. If you have braces, make sure that you use a waxed floss. The unwaxed type can easily get caught in your wires when they shred. Some companies offer floss that is specially designed to work with braces, not against them. Be sure to pull off a piece around 1.5 feet (18″) long so you have enough to wrap it around your fingers and get sufficient control on the floss.

Instead of pulling the floss from the top of your tooth down to the bottom, wearing braces means passing the floss between your teeth but under the wires. Once it is through, use a gently back and forth or up and down motion until you feel the area is clean.

If you have difficulty weaving the floss due to spacing problems (the need for braces in the first place), try using an alternative methods, such as a water pick or a brush designed for flossing. The latter will look like a small bottle brush and are sold and nearly any supermarket. There are threads too. These will act similarly to a sewing needle, pulling the floss through.

Braces are designed to help straighten teeth and give you a better smile. If you do not pay attention, though, it is the perfect time for plaque to build, which eventually leads to Periodontal Gum Disease ( All of the hidden areas of your mouth need extra care. Just an extra note, usually a patient’s mouth is sensitive for the first few days after braces are put on. Take this into consideration for those first few times brushing and flossing to avoid children associating flossing with pain.

Before treating gum, tooth, or other oral problems consult with Dr. JJ Edderai. A dental check-up every three to four months will allow Dr. Edderai to keep a watchful eye on your oral health and prevent cavities before they start. For answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, visit my FAQ page at

Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2015