Flossing With Braces: How to Keep Teeth Clean with Orthodontic Floss


Flossing with braces can be a pain, but oral hygiene is more important than ever during orthodontic treatment. Braces provide lots of hiding places for bacteria, so you need to do a thorough job of cleaning them.

Fortunately, with the right products and technique, you can soon master the art of cleaning properly between each tooth. Keep reading for our tips to make the process that bit easier.

Best Product for a better floss with braces
Oral-B Super FlossCheck the latest price
Cleaning method: scrapes plaques from teeth
Features: May be flavoured or waxed for smoother movement
Waterpik WP-660UK Ultra Professional Water FlosserCheck the latest price
Cleaning method: Pulsing water jet with 10 pressure settings
Features: Pacer and timer; separate water reservoir

Why is flossing with braces important?

flossing for braces
Reaching the gap under the wire can be fiddly

Our teeth are under constant attack from acid and bacteria in the food and drink we consume. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is usually enough to keep teeth healthy.

However, braces create more surfaces for bacteria to cling to and more holes for food to get stuck in. They also make your normal teeth-cleaning routine more time-consuming. If you don’t make the extra effort to maintain good oral hygiene, you’re at risk of getting:

Once your teeth are properly aligned you should find it easier to keep your teeth clean. But while you’re fixing the issue of your crooked teeth, make sure you’re not creating even more problems for yourself.

How do you floss with braces?

The thing that prevents you from flossing the traditional way is the archwire – the wire that runs through each brace bracket to connect them all together. Dental floss gets stuck half way down, so you need to thread the floss through each gap below the wire, too.

Trying to thread the flimsy floss through each hole can be pretty fiddly and frustrating. Instead, you might choose to use an orthodontic floss threader to make the job a lot easier. These needle-shaped devices have a stiffer point which makes it quicker and easier to get the floss into position.

See a floss threader being used on braces in the video below:

It doesn’t really matter when you floss, as long as you include it in your routine at least once a day. You should also brush your teeth and braces twice a day.

Choosing the right orthodontic floss

floss for braces
Oral-B Superfloss makes it easier to clean braces

Dental floss is available waxed or unwaxed and as single strand (monofilament) or multi strand (multifilament). You’ll find that waxed monofilament floss glides more easily around your braces and is less likely to snag or get stuck.

You can buy dental floss for braces which is designed especially for use with orthodontic appliances. Oral B’s Superfloss, for example, has the following features:

  • Pre-cut strands
  • One stiff end for easy threading under braces
  • Part regular waxed floss
  • Part thicker, spongy floss for easier cleaning of orthodontic appliances

“Recently got braces fitted and was spending way too long messing around with regular floss. Grabbed some of these and it makes the job much easier,” says one Amazon reviewer.

Helping children floss

Younger brace wearers may not have the dexterity – or the patience – to floss properly under their braces every day, so they need adult help. Many parents find it easiest to floss their children’s teeth while they are watching TV as their head stays quite still. Make sure the area is well lit so you can see what you’re doing.

Older children and teenagers shouldn’t need any help flossing once they’ve got the hang of it. However, it’s best for parents to supervise them now and again to check they’re doing it properly.

Using a water flosser

water flosser for braces
A strong jet of water cleans between teeth and around braces

If you or your child find it too difficult to use normal dental floss with braces, another option is an electric water flosser. Also called oral irrigators, these devices look a bit like electric toothbrushes but they emit a pressurised jet or pulse of water (and air, with some models) to clean between teeth.

Popular brands of water flosser include the Waterpik, Jetpik and Philips Airfloss. These are available in a number of different models with various features. Look for one with an adjustable power setting, especially if you’ll be using it on your children’s teeth.

This short animation shows how a water flosser can make the job of cleaning teeth with braces much easier:

The jury is out on whether an oral irrigator is good enough to use in place of regular floss since it doesn’t have the same physical contact to scrape plaque off teeth. However, some studies have shown water flossers are actually more effective than string floss.

Ultimately, if the hassle of threading floss between your braces is meaning you just don’t bother, you might be better switching to a water flosser instead. This method of flossing for braces is certainly better than not doing it at all.

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