A healthy smile begins with proper hygiene! This is especially true when you have braces. Braces can trap food particles that cause plaque and bacteria to build up, leading to cavities, gum disease, and other issues. Food or bacteria around your brackets can also discolor or stain your teeth. 

Practicing good hygiene habits will keep your orthodontic treatment on schedule and your teeth bright and beautiful! Our team will support you every step of the way — schedule your free exam today to discuss your options!


To keep your teeth and braces clean, it is essential that you brush after eating, rinse with fluoride mouthwash, and floss every day.
Here are some tips for how to keep your braces clean: 

  • Angle your brush and use circular motions to clean around the bracket and under the wire. This technique will help remove food particles and plaque.
  • Give the inside of your teeth the same amount of attention and care that you give the braces side.
  • Thorough brushing is the best way to prevent cavities and other dental issues.
  • You should brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush.


Ideally, you should also brush after every meal (and snacks!) If you are not at home, you can use a travel brush and water to rinse that food out of your teeth. 

a sink inside an orthodontic office with a toothbrush near the mirror

There may be times when you don’t want to interrupt your day with brushing, but it’s important to stay positive and keep your eyes on the prize!


Brushing only cleans about half of the bacteria and plaque from your teeth. So even though flossing may seem impossible with braces, it is important to clean between your teeth once a day. Using a plastic floss threader or other aid can help you get under your wires and between your brackets.

Finish up your brushing and flossing routine with a good fluoride mouthwash rinse!

Fluoride Rinse

A fluoride rinse is essential to keep your teeth healthy during orthodontic treatment. Fluoride strengthens your teeth, even while they are underneath brackets! A fluoride rinse is your best weapon to ensure the safety of your teeth and prevent staining when your braces come off.  

Special Cleaning Tools

Brushing, flossing, and rinsing are key to caring for your braces. If you want additional tools to reach tough spots, you should consider water flossers, dental picks, and interproximal brushes.

Water Flossers: Waterpik and Waterjet are two brands of water flossers that shoot high-pressure water streams between your teeth. These machines usually come with specialty orthodontic tips. Water flossers are helpful but should not replace flossing.

Dental Picks: These small plastic tools can help you clean beneath your wires and between your teeth.

Interproximal Brushes: Using an interproximal brush is helpful if you have something stuck in the back corner of your braces. These small, cone-shaped brushes are precise tools that can clean the tiniest space in between your braces.

Foods to Avoid

Along with keeping your teeth clean, you may want to avoid some foods that can easily get stuck in your braces or stain your teeth. 

Some foods to avoid with braces include:

  • Nuts: almonds and walnuts can break your wires
  • Sticky candy: caramel, taffy, gummies, and other sweets can stick to your brackets and wires and get stuck in your teeth
  • Chips: some chips are crunchy and can leave particles in your braces and between your teeth
  • Raw fruit and vegetables: apples, pears, carrots, and others can damage your braces
  • Sugary drinks: sports drinks and soda have a lot of sugar that can cause cavities
  • Coffee and tea: pigmented drinks can stain your teeth
a young orthodontic patient standing in front of a white background

Regular Orthodontic & Dental Visits

You will need to schedule regular check-in appointments with your orthodontist while you have braces. Your orthodontist will assess your progress and adjust your braces system. It’s possible to feel some tenderness in your teeth after your braces are adjusted, but the feeling is temporary.

Visiting your dentist is also necessary because they can clean your teeth with fluoride treatments.

Orthodontic visits are the perfect time to ask questions and get more information about your treatment timeline. If you ever have issues with your appliance, you should contact your orthodontist right away.

Properly Cleaning and Caring for Braces
Helps Protect Your Investment

At Palmetto Family Orthodontics, we understand that braces are a big investment. That’s why we want to do everything we can to make sure your treatment process is smooth and successful. Regular brushing and flossing will keep your teeth healthy and help you stay on your treatment schedule.