Kingsport Dentist Blog

How to Floss with Braces

girl with braces smiling at camera

How do you floss with braces?

Flossing with braces can be more difficult than flossing without braces, but it’s still essential to brush and floss in the morning, after meals, and in the evening to prevent food buildup and bacteria from accumulating. The easiest way to floss with braces is to use a Waterpik system which uses the pressure of water to clean tartar and plaque from teeth and gums.

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Can you use a Waterpik with braces?

Yes! In fact, a Waterpik or other water flosser is one of the best ways to floss with braces, since water flossers can reach areas traditional floss can’t when you have braces. Water flossers like Waterpiks also allow you to reach areas under the gums that are difficult to do with traditional floss and floss picks. Waterpiks and water flossers are also beneficial for those who wear braces when gums are sensitive. Using warm water in a water flosser can help soothe sore and sensitive gums before and after getting braces put on or after getting them adjusted.


Plaque is created from the accumulation of saliva and leftover food particles that aren’t removed with regular brushing and flossing. Plaque leads to discoloration and is also a cause of gingivitis and more serious stages of gum disease.

Plaque can build up after every meal, which is why it’s important to brush as often and as thoroughly as possible, especially after meals. For those with braces, plaque can be especially harmful, since you have more areas for plaque to hide.  


How bad is it not to floss with braces?

It’s harmful to your health not to floss, especially when you have braces. When you don’t floss and remove plaque and tartar, this can lead to bacteria which cause cavities and tooth decay as well as infections that can spread to other parts of the body.


Tartar is the hardened state of plaque that accumulates on the surface of your teeth when not removed with regular brushing and flossing. Once tartar builds up, it’s difficult to remove with brushing alone.

This is why it’s recommended that you visit a dentist at least once per year, preferably twice per year, for regular checkups and cleanings so a dental hygienist uses hard tools to remove tartar from your teeth. If you wear braces, tartar can also damage your clear aligners and traditional metal braces and affect the progress of your smile transformation


Is it bad to brush without flossing?

Yes, very bad. Brushing your teeth and flossing your teeth serve two different purposes, so doing one without the other doesn’t allow you to achieve a thorough cleaning. While toothbrushes are intended to remove plaque and tartar from the surface and tops of teeth, they can’t reach the areas between teeth. Neglecting to remove plaque and tartar from these areas means you are just as susceptible to cavities, tooth decay, infection, and gum disease as not brushing.


4 Tips to Make Flossing with Braces Easier

Don’t stress about flossing with braces. Here are four easy ways to help make the most of your dental hygiene routine with braces.

Use a Waterpik or Periodontal Floss

Because water flossers like the Waterpik can reach more areas than traditional flossing, they’re a great option for those with braces. Periodontal floss also makes flossing with braces easier thanks to its thickness and ability to clean harder to reach areas better than traditional floss.  


Water flossers like the Waterpik use the pressure of water to remove tartar and plaque on the surface of teeth as well as below the gums. Because water can penetrate the gums and reach below the surface, water flossers are extremely efficient at eliminating food buildup and plaque and helping prevent tooth decay and gum disease. For many, water flossers also help treat sensitive gums and teeth with continued use.

Don’t Eat Sticky Foods

Eating sticky foods is a big no-no when it comes to braces because they can stick to your teeth as well as the fragile components of traditional metal braces. Sticky foods you should avoid with braces include:

  • Caramel
  • Soft + Hard Candy
  • Chewy Candy
  • Soft Cheese
  • Chewing Gum

Stick to a Routine

Creating a dental hygiene routine is another way to ensure you’re consistently brushing and flossing. Coordinating your morning flossing and brushing with a certain time or at a certain point in your routine can ensure you don’t forget. You can also use habit tracking apps and timers to challenge yourself to brush and floss each day and after meals. Creating a game or a challenge will make it much easier and more fun to stick to your routine.

Keep Floss on Hand

Keeping extra floss on hand at work, at school, or in your bag can help you stick to a routine as well. Once you get into the habit of brushing and flossing, keeping floss on hand so you can clean after meals can help keep you on track to have a sparkling smile at your next dentist appointment. Flossing can also help prevent gingivitis and gum disease.


Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease which includes inflamed, irritated gums which are sore to the touch. This can make brushing and flossing painful, and it can also lead to more serious forms of gum disease that can cause infections and other health problems.


Toothbrush with Toothpaste and Floss

Best Tools for Flossing for Braces

Flossing can be difficult with braces, since you have even more angles to maneuver around and surfaces to clean, but the good news for those who wear braces is that there are tools which can help make flossing easier. Here are our top recommendations for tools to help with flossing with braces.


A water flosser is by far the easiest way to floss with braces since the water pressure of a water flosser does most of the work for you. Rather than having to manipulate a small thread of floss between and around teeth and braces, a water flosser allows you to hold the device close to your teeth and gums and clean efficiently and thoroughly.

Floss Threader

Floss threaders are helpful by making traditional dental floss much easier to use. Floss threader allows you to easily guide floss underneath braces to reach hard to clean areas where food particles and plaque can accumulate.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are also beneficial for cleaning your teeth, since one end is ideal for flossing between teeth and the other is able to clean around your braces. Floss picks are inexpensive and can be purchased at drugstores and grocery stores, so they’re also convenient to have on the go to use throughout the day at work or school after meals and snacks.


Superfloss is similar to a floss threader in that it allows you to direct floss to harder to reach areas. Superfloss includes a built-in threader which is thicker than traditional floss. This allows you to easily clean between teeth in one sweep while directing floss between the brackets and wires of your braces.


Best Type of Water Flosser

Water flossers have become popular in recent years due to their ability to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums. Many dentists use water flossers to clean teeth during dental procedures and routine cleanings, but more compact versions are available to use in the home. Many water flossers also include various brush heads and various power settings to allow you to customize water pressure.  


The most popular water flossers on the market are the Waterpik and the Aqua Flosser. Both provide a reserve tank and various attachments for optimal cleaning. There are also several models available at drug stores, Targets, and Walmarts from leading oral healthcare brands like Philips Sonicare and others.


The Waterpik is the gold standard in water flossers, but it’s also the priciest. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck or an aesthetically pleasing design that fits in with modern decor, however, you’ll most likely be interested in the sleek design of the Waterpik black and copper model. Waterpik also offers water flossers in the $50-70 range which include reservoir tanks for multiple use and multiple attachments and power levels and cordless versions at a $70-80 price point for traveling, vacation, and on the go flossing.

Aqua Flosser

The Aqua Flosser is an efficient yet affordable water flosser which is reasonably priced at around $40. With multiple attachments and a large reservoir tank, you can get multiple uses and an efficient clean for your investment.


Electric Toothbrush Head

Best Types of Toothbrushes for Braces

Both brushing your teeth and flossing can be difficult with braces, but luckily there are tools available to make both easier. For brushing, ortho brushes and proxy brushes offer an easy and convenient way to remove food particles and tartar.

Ortho Toothbrushes

Ortho toothbrushes are available in a variety of shapes and sizes in both electric and manual versions, but most include small round brush heads that are soft enough to brush over brackets and wires without causing damage. This allows you to clean your braces and your teeth without the fear of having to take a trip to the dentist for repairs and adjustments. Many ortho toothbrushes even offer attachments with even smaller tips for brushing around fragile parts.

Proxy Brush

Proxy brushes are small, disposable brushes which can reach between teeth and braces for a combination of brushing and flossing. Proxy brushes are great for travel and on-the-go brushing as well, but many individuals with braces use them as a way to reach harder to clean areas after brushing with an ortho toothbrush.


Have questions about how to brush and floss with braces?

Have more questions? We’re here to answer your questions! Schedule an appointment to speak with your dental provider today. He or she can answer your questions and make suggestions about which products and technology you may find beneficial. Don’t forget to schedule your yearly checkup and cleaning. You’ll want to take extra care to remove plaque and tartar buildup that can cause gum disease and damage to your braces.





Posted by Jake Bateman at 9:00 AM
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