Less Picking, More Flossing

Keeping your teeth, gums, and mouth clean can be difficult when wearing braces. The wires, rubber bands, and brackets create a number of nooks and crannies where food can get stuck or plaque can build up. In an effort to make things easier people wearing braces often choose to skip dental flossing as it can be time-consuming and go with picking, but that might not be the best choice.

Take a look at why orthodontists are encouraging patients to lessen the amount of dental picking they do and increase the amount of flossing they do.

What is Dental Picking?

Instead of taking a long piece of dental floss, wrapping it around your fingers, and flossing between your teeth, picking uses a tool known as a dental pick to help remove food particles, plaque, and tartar buildup.

A dental pick is a small handheld device that is designed to reach those hard-to-reach places between your teeth. The dental pick looks like a thick toothpick with a bristled end. The bristled end is inserted in between the teeth and used to remove any food particles that may have gotten stuck or tartar that may have built up around the gums.

Should You Pick or Floss?

Most orthodontists agree that it is best to use a combination of picking and flossing. Picking is great for dislodging food particles that may have gotten stuck between your teeth, but it has its limitations. It is unable to reach every area of the mouth and around your braces. That is where flossing comes in.

Flossing can get those hard-to-reach places in your mouth. When you properly floss, you can clean between your teeth and around the wires and brackets of your braces. In addition to being able to reach those hard-to-reach places, flossing creates enough force to remove tartar and plaque buildup.

Orthodontists will often recommend you use a pick to remove any large food particles and then floss. This allows you to get the full benefits of both flossing and picking.

If you happen to be short on time and are unable to both pick and floss, you should at least do one or the other. Many people find picking easier when they are at work, school, or out to eat.

Tips for How to Properly Floss When Wearing Braces

The following are some tips that can help you properly floss when wearing braces:

  • Use a floss threader. This dental tool that helps the dental floss get under the wires of your braces. When properly used, this dental tool can help clean the gums and sides of your teeth.
  • Use the proper amount of dental floss. If you are flossing the traditional way, you will want to have enough floss to wrap around your fingers and create a two inch section that can be used to floss. If you are using a floss threader, you will use less floss or you can purchase pre-cut dental floss that is designed for this unique dental tool.
  • Gently slide dental floss in between your teeth
  • Create a C-shape with the floss so it wraps around your teeth
  • Hold the floss tightly and move it up and down. Make sure you move the floss so it reaches just below the gum tissue.
  • Clean the entire sides of the tooth from top to bottom then move to the side of the adjacent tooth
  • Use a clean section of dental floss for each section of teeth you clean

Work with Your Orthodontist to Learn Proper Brushing, Flossing, and Picking Techniques

Dr. Andrew Clark and his staff at Stevens Orthodontics in Tallahassee, Florida will provide you with tips and guidelines on how to properly brush, pick, and floss while wearing braces. The staff will take the time to show you how to properly brush, pick, and floss so you can remove food, plaque, and tartar.

After you get home if you should have any questions about how to brush or floss while wearing braces, feel free to call us at Stevens Orthodontics. Our staff will be able to answer any questions you may have about proper brushing and flossing technique.