Toothpaste for Braces — Making the Right Choice

Searching for a new toothpaste for braces doesn’t have to be stressful. The most important thing to remember is to avoid any toothpaste that contains whitening agents. Other things you should be mindful of are that it is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and that it contains fluoride.

The Perfect Toothpaste for Braces

We’re not going to offer a particular brand, taste, or type — the perfect toothpaste for braces is the one that you will use. With that said, there are some things to consider while you are making your choice.
Here is a quick reference list that will help:

Make sure it contains fluoride and tartar control properties.

Select a flavor/taste that you like and will use.

Make sure it DOES NOT CONTAIN tooth whiteners.

Look for ADA approval on the label.

It doesn’t matter if you select a gel or paste, or what flavor you select. The important thing is that you use it.

The Importance of Fluoride in Toothpaste for Braces

Every dentist and orthodontist will recommend a toothpaste containing fluoride. Most people get a small amount of fluoride if they consume water from municipal water supplies (tap water). With the overwhelming use of bottled water, many people miss that boost. Using toothpaste with fluoride has many benefits:

• Makes teeth stronger
• Prevents tooth decay
• Helps teeth fight against acids
• Protects against cavities

Select toothpaste that contains fluoride to fight cavities. Another additive in some toothpaste is tartar preventatives. Tartar is plaque buildup on teeth that can contribute to tooth decay. Regular brushing and flossing are the best way to control plaque, but having an extra fighter in your tube of toothpaste never hurts!

Why Whitening Additives are Bad in Toothpaste for Braces

Although many people desire a whiter smile, using whitening toothpaste with braces is not recommended. The orthodontist affixes the brackets to teeth with a bonding agent. The whitening properties of toothpaste will not reach the area of the tooth beneath the bracket. When your braces get removed, you will have tiny little squares of discoloration where the brackets were.

Your Mouth Hurts — We Understand

It is perfectly fine to use toothpaste for sensitive teeth while wearing braces. The movement of your teeth can cause slight discomfort. Just be sure to select toothpaste that includes fluoride, is ADA-approved, and contains no whitening additives.

Why Oral Hygiene Is Important with Braces

Oral hygiene is always important, but even more so when you have braces. The brackets and wires create new nooks and crannies where food particles can hide. Because it is more difficult to floss, you might want to skip that chore, but please don’t.

When you get your braces, the orthodontist affixes the brackets to your teeth using an oral bonding agent. The archwire threads through all the brackets. Tightening the archwire creates the tension necessary to move teeth into proper alignment. The archwire is held in place by the bracket clips and reinforced by adding elastics (tiny rubber bands).

The result of all that hardware is that food particles and plaque can hide around the brackets and under the archwire. The results of not brushing and flossing can allow tooth decay to occur. Leaving food particles on your teeth can damage the enamel, and create permanent spots, lines, or patchy staining.

Brushing Technique Is as Important as Toothpaste

You know to brush and floss your teeth already, but there are a few changes when you get new braces. Initially, please plan to spend extra time performing this task until you become adept at brushing around your appliance. There are a few items you should have on hand in addition to your toothbrush and good fluoride toothpaste for braces.

Interdental brushes are tiny soft brushes that are able to slide under the archwire. They are great for getting the top, bottom, and sides of your brackets clean. The other handy item is a floss threader. The threader will help you guide floss under the archwire so that you can floss to the gum line.

Better Brushing — Learning a New Technique

Always begin by rinsing your mouth using plain water. Vigorous swishing will remove any loose food particles. Add toothpaste to your damp toothbrush. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and begin brushing. You should spend at least two minutes brushing, making sure to cover each quadrant thoroughly. Make sure to brush the backs of your teeth and the tops (crowns) of your back teeth.

Although you may have been taught to brush using an up-and-down stroke, with braces a side-to-side motion works best. Brush above and below your brackets and archwire. Using small circular motions over each bracket will help loosen stubborn food.

After brushing, use the interdental brush to clean thoroughly around your brackets and under the archwire. Be sure to rinse, swish, and spit out the toothpaste.

Using a Floss Threader

You may be great at flossing already, but flossing with braces is a bit more difficult. You need to thread the floss around the archwire in order to floss to the gum line. This task is much easier using a floss threading tool. This small loop device fits under the archwire, delivering floss where you need it. It works very much like the sewing needle threader you may have seen your grandmother use.

Floss threaders are found at any store that sells dental supplies. They are inexpensive and disposable. Flossing will take some time at first, but you will get quicker. The easiest way to floss with braces is:

Pull off 12 to 18 inches of dental floss or dental tape
Push approximately 5 inches through the loop in your threader
Insert the threader under (bottom teeth) or above (top teeth) the archwire
Guide it to the gap between your teeth and remove the tool, leaving the floss in place
Floss thoroughly around the teeth and to the gumline
Repeat until you have completed flossing around all teeth

If you have a water irrigation device, they can also be effective in flossing around braces. Manual flossing is better, but a water flossing device is better than not flossing at all.

Selecting the Best Toothpaste for Braces

Remember to brush your teeth several times daily. You should floss at least once daily, but more if you can. If you have any questions about toothpaste, your new appliance, or oral care with braces, please don’t hesitate to contact Holt Orthodontics. Our staff will happily answer your questions.

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