Flossing With Braces: A Step-by-Step Guide

The thought of flossing with braces can be daunting, but there’s no need to fear. With a few tips and tricks, you can maintain oral hygiene through the course of your treatment. In our step-by-step guide, we’ll explain how to floss with braces and make the process easy peasy. 

How to Floss With Braces

Your braces don’t have to interrupt your flossing routine—you may just have to switch things up a bit. For best results, follow these steps.

1. Choose Your Floss

Before getting started, you need to select an appropriate floss. Traditional string floss can be difficult to work with, so you might want to use products designed specifically for braces, such as orthodontic floss or floss threaders.

Orthodontic floss helps minimize damage to braces and moves smoothly between the teeth without snagging. It typically has a stiff end that threads beneath braces, and a spongy part that cleans around the gums.

2. Prepare to Floss

Be sure to wash your hands before flossing—this will prevent the transfer of bacteria to your mouth. Cut about 18 inches of floss and, if desired, use a floss threader to pull it under the wires. This preparation step helps prevent oral infections and makes the process easier.

3. Start Flossing

Now you’re ready to begin flossing! With the floss in place under the wire, gently insert it between two teeth. Move the floss up and down along the side of one tooth. Make sure it goes beneath the gum line and along the side of the adjacent tooth.

Try to avoid snapping the floss into the gums, as this can cause bleeding and irritation. This technique helps remove plaque and food particles trapped between the teeth and under the gums. 

It’s hard to keep these areas clean under normal circumstances, and with rubber bands and braces, it’s especially challenging. Flossing can help. 

4. Clean Around the Brackets

Maneuver the floss around the brackets and wires. Use a gentle sawing motion to get the floss behind the wires without putting too much pressure on them. This part could take a while, but it’s a crucial step in preventing plaque buildup. 

Cleaning around these areas is key to avoid teeth staining—and the development of worse dental problems. It’s important to keep all parts of your braces clean and functional. 

5. Post-Flossing Care

using a dental rinse is a part of flossing with braces

When you’re done, wash your mouth with water or an antiseptic dental rinse to remove any remaining particles and plaque. Don’t overlook this step—rinsing flushes out bacteria dislodged by the floss. 

6. Keep up the Good Work

Flossing with braces should be a daily practice. If you’ve never flossed before, now is the time to start. Braces can get yucky if not property maintained, and so it’s especially important to take care of your teeth during this time. 

Take note of any changes that occur when flossing. Consult with your orthodontist if the process is particularly difficult or painful. They can provide helpful tips for making things smoother. 

What Types of Floss Are Best For Braces?

The right floss can make this process a breeze. Conversely, the wrong type can complicate matters. Be sure to do your research and follow any recommendations given by your orthodontist. Wax floss is generally the go-to option because it’s less likely to catch or fray on braces. 

Floss threaders can also be a lifesaver. They assist in threading behind the wires, allowing you to reach the gum line and spaces between the teeth. 

How Often Should You Floss With Braces?

Ideally, every day. Keeping a regular flossing routine is especially important when you have braces. Flossing at night is best, as it ensures debris does not sit on the teeth overnight. The buildup of plaque and gunk can cause gum disease and even tooth decay.

What Should You Do if Your Gums Start Bleeding?

No one wants to see blood when flossing, but don’t panic. Try flossing more gently going forward and see if that resolves things. If not, it could be a sign of gum inflammation, also known as gingivitis. Talk to your orthodontist if bleeding persists. 

How Can You Manage Soreness When Flossing With Braces?

when you floss with braces, your gums may be irritated

Flossing with braces can sometimes cause soreness, particularly for those with sensitive gums. To alleviate discomfort, use a softer waxed floss. Rinsing with warm salt water after flossing can also help soothe irritated gums. 

More severe cases may require an oral analgesic gel, which you can apply directly to the affected area. And it might seem obvious, but be sure to use the right techniques—like those described above—to prevent irritation. 

Is it Normal For Teeth to Feel Loose When Flossing?

Yes. This sensation occurs because of the way braces shift teeth into new positions. While it can make them feel less stable, this feeling is temporary and should go away over time. However, if the sensation is severe or is accompanied by pain, you should consult your orthodontist.

Can Flossing With Braces Cause Gums to Recede?

Not typically. Correct, gentle flossing actually helps prevent gum recession. To prevent issues, avoid aggressive flossing techniques. If you do notice your gums starting to recede, review your flossing process with your orthodontist to make sure you’re doing it right. 

What if Your Teeth Are Sensitive?

Flossing with sensitive teeth is no fun, but there are a few tips you can use to reduce pain. First, be sure to use soft floss. It can also help to use a fluoride rinse prior to flossing, as this helps strengthen the enamel. Avoiding rinsing with very cold water. 

As with all flossing problems, it’s a good idea to speak to your orthodontist if the problem continues or is particularly severe. Catching issues before they spiral out of control can prevent worsening pain—and mounting bills—in the long run. 

Who Should You Talk to About Flossing With Braces?

Flossing with braces can be challenging at first, but by working closely with your orthodontist, you can manage the process like a pro. For more information on how to floss with braces, schedule a free consultation with Peterson Family Orthodontics.