Whether you are looking to close gaps, straighten crooked teeth or reduce overcrowding, many people turn to braces to enhance their smiles. Depending on the severity of the problem, braces may be worn anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. Given the lengthy commitment and larger financial investment, it’s important to take proper care of your teeth when wearing braces. Caring for braces correctly will ensure that when the braces are removed you are left with a beautiful smile and not more dental issues.

Brush your teeth after every meal.

Brushing your teeth is crucial when caring for braces properly. Having braces means there are more areas for food to get stuck and fester if left alone. Therefore, it is recommended that people with braces brush after every meal. Taking the extra time to brush after eating will help prevent cavities and stains from forming around the braces.

Use proper technique when brushing.

Brushing your teeth with braces requires a different technique to clean around the wires and brackets. Dentists recommend that you hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle to remove food debris from the braces’ hardware. Be sure to brush your gums as well using a 45° angle and a circular motion.

Don’t forget to floss.

Brushing alone isn’t enough when caring for braces. Debris and plaque can get lodged between teeth and require flossing to remove. Because braces include wires that extend the length of the mouth, flossing between teeth can be more of a challenge. Using a floss threader can make the process a bit easier. This tool can help thread floss around the braces’ wire to allow access between the teeth.

Caring for braces by avoiding certain foods.

It’s important to be careful not to damage braces by eating certain foods. This includes foods that are chewy, hard or sticky as these can cause damage to wires, rubber bands or the brackets. Some foods that should be avoided include popcorn, gum, nuts and even ice chips.