Brushing Around Braces

One of the most frequently asked questions for a patient who is in braces treatment at Boss Orthodontics, is how do I effectively clean around the braces? To answer that question, it is important to know why it is important to clean around the braces. The short answer is to prevent white spots, gingivitis and cavities.

Here’s the long answer: The braces, wires, and colors all hold on to the food we eat, bacteria go to those places that food is left behind, eat that food and then produce acid- causing the white spots (cavity scars) and cavities. Once the marks form, they don’t usually go away. PREVENTION IS BEST!

Step 1: Waterpik & Water Flossers  30-60 seconds

Use to flush out debris around the braces, always want to point it away from the gums. 30-60 seconds.

Step 2: Brush time: 3 minutes (2-3 times daily)

The ideal brushing time no braces is 2 minutes. Braces create more nooks and crannies and areas that need brushing. Therefore, it takes LONGER to adequately clean around the braces.  3 minutes is the minimum amount of time a patient in braces should spend brushing.

Profile of tooth with bracket

Manual Toothbrush Method

The best way to clean around the braces is to focus the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle above the bracket and gently ‘wiggle’ the toothbrush 3-5 seconds brushing the backmost 2-3 teeth. This allows the bristles to pass behind the wire and clean around the braces. Then move the toothbrush at the braces and wiggle back and forth  3-5 seconds on the same backmost 2-3 teeth. Then move the toothbrush at 45 degree angle to gums and wiggle back and forth 3-5 seconds on the same 2-3 teeth. Then brush the biting surface and tongue surface of those teeth 3-5 seconds. Now advance to the next 2-3 teeth and begin the sequence again. It is best to start on one side of the mouth and slowly work your way to the other side, then start the same sequence on the bottom teeth.

Electric Toothbrush Method

Same as above but no need to wiggle- just point the toothbrush at the appropriate angles and HOLD it there for 3-5 seconds before changing position.

Many patients ask us which is best- manual or electric toothbrush? The truth is- whichever you are using correctly for the correct amount of time and is your preference- works great! Just remember the basics:

  • Brush smarter, not harder
  • Use a soft-bristle brush
  • Rechargeable toothbrushes (Oral B/Sonicare) are more effective cleaning than battery operated

Appointments and Oral Hygiene Instructions

At your regularly schedule visits, Dr Boss or your dental assistant will review with you or your child if there are areas around the brackets or gums that are being missed with the toothbrush. We know brushing around brackets can be hard at first so we will spend time with you to make sure you are getting all of those areas!

At Boss Orthodontics we treat you like family and strive to provide you with excellent care and service. We are a family owned practice and proudly serve the greater Austin area with three coinvent locations: Bee Cave, Austin (Westlake), and Kyle.

Here are some sites that provide more information on brushing techniques for braces:

American Association of Orthodontists:



Boss Orthodontics: