Flossing with braces is a vital step in your daily oral hygiene routine. But you may not realize why this is so important: Flossing removes hard-to-reach food debris and plaque between teeth and along the gumline. And with braces, you have many more places for that food, plaque, and bacteria to hide!

When you don’t floss regularly—particularly with braces—this can lead to cavities and gum disease. In fact, flossing is so important that NOT flossing is responsible for approximately 40% of plaque removal.

And there’s another point to flossing with braces: The movement of your teeth will be easier if your oral health is good. Neglect flossing, and you may be setting yourself up for more dental visits—and more expense—to correct issues.

The Basics of Flossing with Braces

We tell our patients to floss at least twice a day. However, it’s particularly important to floss at night to remove anything that could be stuck between teeth or around the braces. By flossing every night, you’ll get rid of anything that’s accumulated on your teeth and gums during the day.

As a note, it’s always better to floss before brushing. By doing this, you loosen and remove debris and bacteria from the tiny spaces in between your teeth and around your braces. Then, when you brush, you sweep this debris out of your mouth. By brushing first and flossing second, you won’t get the chance to get rid of the debris loosened by the floss. So, always floss first, brush second, and rinse third.

The Best Flossing Method for Braces

You can floss whichever way you prefer, of course, but we want to make sure you know the different flossing methods and which is most effective. You can floss the traditional way, with a floss threader, or with an orthodontic flosser.

Traditional Flossing

Some patients prefer to floss the traditional way, much as they do without braces. If you choose this method, be sure to use waxed floss. Braces can easily shred unwaxed floss, which can then get stuck and potentially cause more bacteria and plaque to form. Here are the steps to floss with braces using the traditional method:

  • Use a piece of waxed floss about 18 inches long.
  • With one hand, thread one end of the floss between your archwire and teeth. Using the other hand, grab the end of the floss as it makes its way through the archwire.
  • Wrap the ends of the floss around one finger on each hand and hold the floss taut.
  • Guide the floss up and down the side of one tooth at a time. Make a c-shape at the base of the teeth to floss between the tooth and gum.
  • Repeat this process using a clean section of floss for each set of teeth, until you’ve flossed all your teeth.