Brushing and Flossing


At Doleski & Wolford Orthodontics, we specialize in creating healthy and beautiful smiles for children, teens, and adults at our three convenient office locations in Erie, Lawrence Park and Corry, PA. Our orthodontists are here for you every step of the way during your treatment, whether that be with braces or Invisalign. But your orthodontist also needs your help when it comes to managing your oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment for optimal results.

Brushing with braces.

Importance of Good Oral Hygiene While Undergoing Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment is a two-way street that requires a consistent effort from both your orthodontist and yourself. While your orthodontist works on straightening your teeth with braces or Invisalign clear aligners, you are responsible for taking good care of your teeth and gums during treatment. The last thing you want to happen is to find out you must spend more time in treatment due to a problem that’s developed, like tooth decay or the beginning stages of gum disease. Because oral hygiene is a key part of successful orthodontic treatment, we’ve put together the following information about brushing and flossing while wearing braces.

Proper Brushing is Key to Good Oral Health

When you have braces bonded to your teeth, it’s more important than ever to do a very good job of brushing your teeth. But how do you go about doing that? First of all, you need to have the right tools. You should use either a soft-bristled toothbrush or a bi-level brush that has shorter bristles in the center and longer bristles on the edges. You can also use an electric toothbrush if that’s your preference, as long as you brush carefully on a medium setting.

We recommend brushing your teeth using a toothpaste containing fluoride after each meal and at bedtime. Spend about two minutes carefully brushing all tooth surfaces, as well as the areas in and around your braces where tiny bits of food debris can easily become trapped.

A good brushing technique to use is to begin on the outside surfaces of your teeth. Just place the brush flat against your teeth and use small circular motions to gently brush them clean. Then tilt the brush toward the gumline (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) to brush the areas between your braces and gums. Then finish the job by thoroughly brushing the inside tooth surfaces.

Tools to Make Brushing Easier

Interdental toothbrush.If you find it challenging to brush around your orthodontic appliances, there are some special brushing tools available at most pharmacies that can help. Interdental toothbrushes or proxabrushes look similar to a pipe cleaner as it has bristles on all sides and can be used to brush gently and carefully around your brackets and archwires on your teeth.

Another helpful tool that makes cleaning your teeth easier is a water pick or an oral irrigator. This handy little device emits a pressurized stream of water at your teeth to help dislodge tiny bits of food that become trapped between your teeth, along the gumline, and in all the tight spaces around your braces. We don’t recommend replacing your toothbrush with a water pick but instead using it as an additional tool for making sure your teeth are clean.

Flossing Basics to Clean Between Teeth and Along the Gum Line

Floss threader.

It can be difficult to floss your teeth under the archwire of your braces using dental floss alone. That’s why we recommend using a floss threader as it makes the job much easier to accomplish. Using a floss threader is somewhat similar to threading a needle. You simply pull one end of the floss into the loop of the threader and then pass the threader, along with the free end of the floss, under the archwire. Then grasp the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth, all the way under the gumline. Then pull out the floss and use a new section for the next area until you’ve flossed around all your teeth.

You should be flossing your teeth at least once per day, preferably at bedtime to ensure your teeth are clean overnight. Flossing not only removes tiny bits of trapped food from between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach, but it also helps keep your gums healthy and assists in removing plaque to prevent a buildup of tartar on your teeth.

Contact Your Erie, PA Orthodontist

If you need some more brushing and flossing tips or have any questions about your treatment, please feel free to contact us as we’re always here to help! If you would like to schedule a complimentary first visit for yourself or your child, please request an appointment today. Our practice focuses solely on orthodontics, giving you the assurance of knowing we can provide you with the most effective treatment you need to achieve your best possible smile! We look forward to welcoming you to our practice soon, where we love improving our patients’ smiles! 

Related Articles

Caring for Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment Keeping your mouth and gums clean and healthy while undergoing orthodontic treatment can be challenging. Food and plaque can get stuck around braces. Even if you are wearing clear aligners, hygiene efficiency is more important than you might think as you could be more vulnerable to gum disease. It's important to keep on top of the situation so dental disease does not take hold. Dear Doctor magazine offers some tips... Read Article

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Oral Hygiene - Dear Doctor Magazine

Oral Hygiene Behavior — Dental Health for Life The best tools for maintaining your oral health and minimizing dental problems are a quality toothbrush, toothpaste, a roll of dental floss, approved mouthwash and good diet. This article details a winning game plan for oral health... Read Article