Hygiene & Diet

Keeping a Healthy Smile

Proper brushing and flossing removes plaque. Plaque is a sticky, white substance that collects on your teeth. It is made up of bacteria, food and saliva. If plaque and trapped food are left on your teeth and around your braces, it can cause bad breath, cavities and swollen gums. If your gums become puffy, the teeth may not move as quickly; this could delay treatment progress. Plaque can also discolor your teeth and make them look yellow. Don’t let any of these things happen to you; be your smile’s best friend by brushing often and properly. Also, remember to floss as often as possible.

When To Brush Your Teeth

Teeth should be brushed in the morning, after each meal, and at bedtime. If you cannot brush after meals, rinse your mouth vigorously with water. What is most important is that at least once every day you vigorously brush your teeth and braces until they are spotlessly clean. This takes extra time; so most patients do it at night before going to bed. The following brushing and flossing tips will keep your appliances and your smile healthy:




  • Step 1 – Starting at one side of the mouth on upper teeth, position the brush so that the bristles angle downward beneath the arch wire. Brush 1-2 teeth at a time, and do 5-6 circular motions in each area.
  • Step 2 – Repeat Step 1, except angle bristles upward beneath the arch wire.
  • Step 3 – Brush again without angling the bristles using a gentle, circular motion between the gum line and the braces.
  • Step 4 – Repeat Steps 1-3 for the lower teeth. Remember to brush the back and biting surfaces of all your teeth as well.



The use of an electronic toothbrush is recommended if proper brushing is not accomplished with a manual toothbrush. As over-the-counter fluoride rinse (e.g. Act) is also highly suggested. Fluoride strengthens the enamel surface of your teeth and should be used daily.


  • Step 1 – Starting between the first two teeth on one side of your mouth, insert the stiff end of Super Floss between the teeth and above the arch wire for the upper teeth and beneath the arch wire for the lower teeth. Move floss in an up-and-down motion (not a sawing motion) between contacts of the two teeth.
  • Step 2 – Remove floss and then reinsert floss between the next two teeth. Repeat this procedure until all the teeth have been completed.

Ideally flossing should be done every day. If this is not possible, please floss at least 2-3 times a week. Soft Pics (by GUM) are another option for cleaning between teeth.

Expected Sensations

If brushing and flossing are done properly on a regular basis, you should have no gum discomfort. When brushing and flossing are not done in this manner, the gums become sore and puffy. If this happens, do not stop brushing your teeth and gums. Warming the bristles under hot water will soften them causing less irritation to the gums. Always, use light, gentle strokes when brushing.


Successful orthodontic treatment depends upon our patient exercising reasonable care in avoiding hard or chewy substances which will damage braces or other orthodontic appliances.

Please stay away from these troublemakers:

  • Sticky foods like taffy and caramels
  • Crunchy foods like pretzels, popcorn, and nuts
  • Vegetables and fruits such as apples and raw carrots should be cut into small pieces
  • Do not open sports bottles with your teeth
  • Biting on things like pen caps, pencils, ice or fingernails

It is impossible to list all the types of food that need to be avoided, so please use common sense in your selections.

If you experience a problem with a loose bracket, band, or other orthodontic appliance, please call us as soon as possible during regular office hours. That will allow us to schedule the additional time necessary for the repair.