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Oral Hygiene

Braces create small ledges, nooks and crannies for food deposits, which can lead to cavities and gum problems. This makes brushing and flossing even more important while you are wearing braces. When you brush and floss, handle your appliances carefully so you won't break or lose them. Following these brushing, flossing and eating tips will keep your appliances and your smile healthy.


Be sure to brush your teeth right after every meal and before you go to bed. It's best to use a fluoride toothpaste to help fight cavities. Dr. Rykiss may prescribe a special fluoride paste that you will brush with at night to help prevent cavities. Try to brush like this:

  • Start by brushing the outside of each tooth 10 times
  • Then brush where your gums and teeth meet using a circular motion
  • Brush the inside of each tooth 10 times
  • Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth last


Because your toothbrush will not reach between your teeth, brushing alone won't keep your teeth clean and healthy. Flossing can help. A floss threader, available from us or a pharmacy, helps you floss with braces on. Floss once a day, like this:

  • Thread floss through the threader and slip it up behind your archwire.
  • Pull the floss between two teeth and up under your gum margins.
  • Rinse with lots of clean water, and watch your teeth and braces sparkle.


Although some patients are able to eat and drink almost anything while in braces and have no ill effects, there are certain dietary habits that are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances as well as increase the risk of dental disease. Our aim is to achieve the treatment goals with as few disturbances to appliances as possible and to minimize the side effects of poor diet choices. Remember, teeth move best in a healthy environment. A well-balanced diet is critical to good treatment results.


Foods and drinks which your dentist has suggested may cause dental cavities should be restricted while wearing braces. Sticky foods are to be avoided because of the increased risk of dental decay and appliance breakage. If foods or drinks high in sugar are to be consumed, we advise having them with regular meals or at one given time of day. Please make sure that careful brushing and rinsing take place immediately afterward. Between-meal snacks should be limited to foods without refined sugar and should be followed by brushing or vigorous rinsing if a toothbrush is not available.


Braces are attached to your teeth with an adhesive that normally will withstand the forces of eating. However, braces can be dislodged and wires bent or broken while eating certain foods. Hard foods should be avoided. Chewing ice cubes, pencils and fingertips can also be very destructive to your appliances. Some foods such as whole apples, raw carrots or celery, though healthy snacks, must be cut into bite-size pieces to prevent damage to your braces. The following foods can be particularly harmful to your teeth, gums and/or appliances while wearing braces:

  • Sticky Food or Candy of Any Kind (i.e. taffy, caramels, Skittles, Starbursts, licorice, suckers, etc.)
  • Hard Foods or Candy of Any Kind (i.e. Jolly Ranchers, ice, beef jerky, Corn Nuts, etc.)
  • Soda
  • Popcorn
  • Peanuts or Seeds in the Shell (i.e. sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
  • Gum (sugarless is okay)

Remember, if you have any questions about dietary restrictions or good food choices, please ask!


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