Do You Need Specialized Floss for Braces?

Published on: February 19, 2023
Woman wearing orthodontic braces flossing her teeth.

If you have braces, you know that oral hygiene can be more challenging when you have brackets and wires on your teeth, especially flossing. You may wonder, should you use specialized dental floss with braces or what works best? Here’s what you need to know about floss for braces.

Do You Have to Floss If You Have Braces?

It may be frustrating to floss when you have braces, but that does not mean you should stop performing this necessary oral hygiene task. Do you have to floss if you have braces? Absolutely. Brushing alone only cleans about 60% of the surfaces of your teeth – flossing helps with the other 40%.

The spaces between your teeth are notorious for hiding bacteria that can result in tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. Flossing disrupts bacteria that make plaque and tartar, which can lead to oral health issues. Avoiding flossing due to braces can lead to serious oral health problems.

How Often Do You Have to Floss with Braces?

There is not a change in flossing frequency when you have braces. Everyone should floss at least once a day to achieve the best oral health. While it may seem difficult when you have braces, there are specialized types of floss for braces and other tools to make it easier to floss daily.

Tools and Specialized Floss for Braces

Getting floss in between the teeth when you have braces can be hard. Thick, waxy dental floss does not work well with brackets and wires – there are better dental floss options that can help make it easier to slide the floss between the teeth and orthodontic components.

Strong, Gliding Dental Floss
You want to choose a dental floss that is lightly coated with wax but thinner than typical wax dental floss. This can allow the floss to slide between the teeth and braces easier. There are floss brands that are made to be used with braces and other oral devices, which your dentist can recommend.
Floss Threaders
Flossing the regular way with a strand of floss suspended between your fingers is not easy with braces. Floss threaders are devices that allow you to access the spaces between your teeth while navigating around and under your braces around the gum tissue.
With a floss threader, you put the end of the floss in the threader, then push it between your teeth under your braces. Once the floss is pulled through, you can floss as usual, then pull it through to remove. It is an effective way to floss for those with braces, implants and other oral devices.

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Soft Dental Picks
Another option for flossing is soft dental picks that can be used to clean between the teeth. Unlike wooden toothpicks that can damage your braces and are harsh on your gums, these are flexible and soft picks with bristles to clean between your teeth. They are also disposable.
Orthodontic Flossers
If you like flossers but cannot use traditional flossers with your braces, try the orthodontic flossers. These have one flat side that makes it easier to avoid damaging braces while still providing a convenient way to floss, especially on the go. Many of these flossers also have a soft pick in the handle.
Pre-Cut Dental Floss
For those that are using floss threaders to access the gum line under braces and clean between teeth, there are pre-cut floss pieces that work great with these devices. These pre-cut floss pieces come with their own threader and have various thicknesses available for better oral health.
Interdental Brushes
To clean larger gaps that are common in some patients wearing braces, interdental brushes are larger versions of the dental picks. These can clean wider spaces between teeth better than floss in some cases and can easily fit under braces to remove bacteria around the gum line.

Finding the Right Floss for Braces

There are multiple options for flossing when you have braces. All these devices can be used to maintain your oral health during your orthodontic treatment – which is best depends on which is easier for you. Whatever method will help you floss daily is the best one to use since consistency is key.

One other device you may want to consider adding to your flossing routine is a water pick. These devices shoot water between the teeth to remove debris. While they are effective for cleaning, they should not replace flossing, but be used in addition to your daily flossing around your braces.
Set of interdental brushes and different types of dental floss.
There are specialized floss options for braces, as well as tools like soft picks, interdental brushers and floss threaders that can make oral hygiene easier. Talk to your dentist about the best flossing products and methods to maintain optimal oral hygiene and dental health during your orthodontic treatment.

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