Dental Cleanings with Braces

Dental Cleanings with Braces
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Maintaining proper dental hygiene becomes more complex when braces are added. Braces, though designed to align teeth, also create areas where food and plaque can accumulate, leading to heightened oral hygiene concerns. 

This article details the significance, frequency, and method of dental cleanings for those with braces and provides essential home care advice and diet recommendations to ensure oral health is prioritized during orthodontic treatment. Read on to understand the specifics of dental cleanings with braces.

Dental Cleaning with Braces – Can I Get My Teeth Cleaned with Braces?

Dental cleaning with braces is not only possible but essential. Braces introduce unique areas where food and plaque can accumulate, making regular professional cleanings crucial. Such cleanings help mitigate risks associated with plaque buildup, gum diseases, and potential staining. While the cleaning process with braces might be more intricate, it ensures that teeth and gums remain healthy throughout orthodontic treatment.

Frequency of Dental Cleanings with Braces

While regular dental cleanings are typically recommended every six to twelve months for most individuals, those with braces may benefit from more frequent visits. Braces create additional nooks and crannies where food particles and plaque can accumulate, making it somewhat more challenging to maintain optimal oral hygiene. To counteract this and to ensure that the teeth and gums remain healthy during orthodontic treatment, some dentists and orthodontists recommend quarterly cleanings or every three to four months. Regular check-ups allow dental professionals to monitor oral health closely, catch potential issues early, and ensure that the teeth are being cleaned thoroughly around the braces’ components. 

Why Regular Dental Cleanings are Essential with Braces

For those wearing braces, maintaining oral hygiene is more challenging and yet even more crucial. Braces introduce unique areas prone to food accumulation, making regular dental cleanings indispensable. Here’s a list of reasons why consistent professional dental cleaning is most important for those undergoing orthodontic treatment.

See also: How Often Should You Get Your Teeth Cleaned – Facts and Myths about Dental Cleaning

Increased Risk of Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Wearing braces can make it difficult to clean all the small, hard-to-reach areas of your teeth. This increases the risk of plaque and tartar buildup around brackets and wires. Regular dental cleanings by a professional can help ensure the thorough removal of plaque and tartar, keeping your teeth and gums healthy during orthodontic treatment.

Worth Knowing

About 3.5 billion people worldwide were affected by oral diseases in 2019, making them the most widespread conditions among the more than 300 diseases and conditions that affect humanity.

Avoiding Gum Diseases

Gum diseases, like gingivitis and periodontitis, can develop due to improper oral hygiene with braces. Regular dental cleanings and exams are important to prevent the onset or advancement of gum diseases by removing plaque and tartar and assessing the condition of your gums.

Preventing Stains and Discoloration

Braces can lead to stains and discoloration on teeth, especially around the brackets. By scheduling dental cleanings regularly, your dentist can remove any buildup around the brackets and help maintain the overall appearance of your teeth. 

See also: Smoking with Braces

The Process of Dental Cleanings with Braces

For individuals with braces, the dental cleaning process incorporates several additional steps compared to standard cleaning. This section outlines the procedure dental professionals employ when addressing teeth equipped with braces.

Pre-Cleaning Examination

Before beginning the teeth cleaning process, a dental professional conducts a pre-cleaning examination to assess the condition of the braces, teeth, and gums. This allows them to identify any issues or areas requiring special care during the cleaning process.

Plaque and Tartar Removal

The dental professional will then remove plaque and tartar buildup around the braces, teeth, and gum line. They use specialized tools, like a scaler, to gently scrape away the buildup without damaging the orthodontic hardware.


After plaque and tartar removal, the dental professional polishes the teeth. They apply a polishing paste to a small spinning brush, which is carefully maneuvered around the brackets and wires of the braces to remove surface stains and smooth the tooth surface.


The dental professional flosses the patient’s teeth using an orthodontic floss or a floss threader to get underneath the archwires. This step is important to remove trapped food particles and plaque between the teeth, preventing cavities and gum issues.


After flossing, the dental professional thoroughly rinses the patient’s mouth with water to eliminate any residual cleaning agents, debris, and saliva. They may use a handheld tool to spray a gentle stream of water over the teeth and gums.

Fluoride Treatment

Lastly, a fluoride treatment is applied to strengthen the teeth and protect them against future cavities. The dental professional applies a fluoride gel or varnish to the teeth, allowing it to sit for a few minutes before removal or instructing the patient to avoid eating or drinking for a short while after the treatment.

Challenges in Dental Cleanings with Braces

Dental cleaning becomes much more complicated when braces are involved. While braces play an important role in aligning teeth, they can also cause some difficulties for both dentists and patients:

Difficulties for Dental Professionals

Dental professionals encounter specific challenges when cleaning the teeth of patients with braces. Brackets and wires create physical barriers that make it harder to access and clean all tooth surfaces effectively. The intricate design of orthodontic devices can obstruct the view and complicate the removal of plaque and tartar, often demanding specialized tools and techniques. Additionally, maneuvering around braces increases the time required for a thorough cleaning, making the procedure more labor-intensive.

Difficulties for Patients

Patients with braces face unique challenges during dental cleanings. The presence of brackets and wires can make accessing all areas of the teeth more complex, leading to potentially longer and more detailed cleaning sessions. The process of removing plaque and tartar from around the orthodontic hardware can be uncomfortable, especially if there’s significant buildup. The tight spaces created by braces can also mean more meticulous flossing is needed, which can be tedious and sometimes cause slight discomfort. Additionally, the sensation of tools maneuvering around braces might increase anxiety.

Home Care Tips for Dental Cleanings with Braces

While professional dental cleanings are important, adopting effective home care routines can make a significant difference. The following tips provide guidance on ensuring that your teeth remain clean and healthy during orthodontic treatment.

Effective Brushing Technique

Brushing your teeth with braces can be challenging, but it’s necessary to maintain proper oral hygiene. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and brush gently in circular motions. Clean each tooth individually, focusing on the area where the tooth meets the brace, and brush all surfaces of the teeth. Also, brush the brackets and wires to remove any built-up plaque.

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Use Interdental Brushes

Using an interdental brush can help clean hard-to-reach areas around braces. These small brushes have bristles to reach between the wires and brackets. Gently insert the brush between the wire and the tooth, then clean by moving the brush back and forth.

Importance of Regular Flossing

Wearing braces can trap food and plaque in hard-to-reach areas, heightening the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Regular flossing is vital for those with braces, as it helps remove trapped particles and reduces the chance of buildup. 

Use Mouth Rinses

Mouth rinses can help maintain oral hygiene for those with braces. They help reduce inflammation, prevent cavities, and remove plaque and food debris. Swish the rinse for 30 to 60 seconds, then spit it out. Choose a mouth rinse recommended by your dentist to ensure its compatibility with braces.

Role of Diet in Dental Cleanings with Braces

Braces can make it challenging to maintain good oral hygiene, but proper diet choices play an important role in the success of dental cleanings with braces.

Emphasizing Certain Foods

By incorporating appropriate foods, patients can maintain their braces and achieve better dental cleanings. 

Some suitable food choices include:

  • Soft fruits like bananas and berries
  • Cooked or soft vegetables
  • Moist desserts and pasta dishes
  • Soft cheeses

Avoiding Certain Foods

During orthodontic treatment, some foods should be avoided to prevent damage to braces and teeth. Hard or sticky foods can cause pain or require adjustments to the braces. 

Examples of such foods include:

  • Hard fruits and vegetables
  • Chewy candies
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts and seeds

It is essential to minimize the consumption of these foods to ensure braces remain in good condition and to avoid discomfort during dental cleanings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get your teeth cleaned while having braces?

Yes, you can and should get your teeth cleaned while having braces. In fact, regular dental cleanings are even more essential when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Braces create numerous nooks and crannies where food particles and plaque can accumulate, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Regular dental cleanings by a professional can help ensure the thorough removal of plaque and tartar, even around brackets and wires. It’s usually recommended that patients with braces see their dentist for cleanings more frequently than they might without braces, often every 3-4 months.

How often should people with braces get their teeth cleaned?

People with braces should consider getting their teeth cleaned more frequently than those without orthodontic appliances. Typically, it’s recommended that individuals without braces have dental cleanings every six months. However, for those with braces, visiting the dentist every 3-4 months for cleaning can be beneficial. The additional hardware on the teeth can trap food and plaque more easily, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Should you get your teeth cleaned more often with braces?

Yes, it’s generally recommended to get your teeth cleaned more often when you have braces. While individuals without braces are typically advised to have dental cleanings every six months, those with braces can benefit from more frequent cleanings, such as every 3-4 months.


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Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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