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American Association of Orthodontists

Brushing and Flossing

Creating smiles in central New York for almost 60 years, CFSS Braces is the go-to orthodontist for teens and adults in the Fayetteville, Fulton, and Syracuse areas. With three convenient locations, these highly experienced and skilled orthodontists treat a wide range of orthodontic problems with several types of braces, Invisalign, and more. But there is more to orthodontics than just the wearing of braces or aligners. Drs. Callahan, Flanagan, Smith, and Stock and their team of pros care about your overall oral health and so plan for best practices before, during, and after your appliance is installed. That means educating you on the orthodontic process beginning on your first visit, working with you on a retention process after you have your braces removed, and making sure you understand the importance of brushing and flossing during the time you wear your braces or aligners. To help, we’ve compiled these tips for brushing and flossing for both braces and Invisalign aligners.

How To Care For Your Teeth With Braces

Brushing With Braces

No matter which type of braces you choose, when you first get them on, you are likely to feel a big change. There will likely be some discomfort and awkwardness with the new apparati in your mouth. There will also be a change in the way you are able to brush and floss your teeth. And it will never be more important in your life to make sure you embrace the change and begin proper oral health habits with braces:

  • Brush more often.  The orthodontists at CFSS recommend that you brush your teeth with braces after EVERY meal. That means packing a toothbrush with you wherever you go.

  • Brush the recommended time. With braces it’s very important that you spend two minutes on your brushing your teeth and braces. Set a timer or use one of the many brushing apps now available to help make the time go fast. Your braces need the extra brushes to loosen any food particles that might be trapped.

  • Select a good toothbrush. If you haven’t been changing your toothbrush every six months up to this point, this would be a good time to start. Any toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association is good, but the orthodontists at CFSS suggest a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and, of course, a fluoride toothpaste. If your ready to power up to an electric toothbrush, it can make your brushing even more effective.

  • Brush systematically. When you’re brushing your braces, develop a system so that you are sure to make brush contact with every tooth on every side. Start with brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth with small, gentle circular motions with the head of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Begin on one side at the top and brush each tooth moving to the other side and then to the bottom. Then do the same thing on the inside surfaces. Make sure you go all the way down to the gum line. Next, brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth, again, going from one side to the other, top to bottom with short, gentle back-and-forth motions. Be sure to pay close attention to the areas of your teeth around your brackets or other appliances.

Flossing With Braces

When you have braces, flossing can be a crucial step in keeping your mouth and teeth clean. With braces, it’s easy for food particles to get stuck in and around your teeth, brackets and wires. This food and bacteria, if left uncleaned, can develop plaque around your brackets and gum disease. Flossing after every meal will help keep your teeth and braces clean, which will also help keep your treatment time on track

  • Floss more often. Before you had braces you may have only flossed at night or maybe not at all. Your Fayetteville, Fulton, and Syracuse orthodontists suggest you floss after every meal so that food doesn’t have a chance to turn to bacteria.​​

  • Choose your floss. It can be challenging to floss around your brackets and wires, but thankfully there is a special floss threader that you can use to help you with the process. The CFSS orthodontic staff will show you how to use it and also give you some special waxed orthodontic floss that will help you thread the floss behind each wire. ​

  • Flossing steps. Once you thread the floss under your archwire, wrap the ends of the floss around your pointer fingers of both hands, leaving a few inches of taught floss between them. Gently slide the floss between each set of teeth using a back and forth motion. Floss the sides of each tooth beneath the gum line to remove plaque and food particles. Repeat this process until you’ve flossed all of your teeth.​

  • Consider a water flosser.  If you find that your floss is not removing all of the food particles between your teeth and around your braces, ask us about a water flosser!

How To Brush & Floss With Aligners

Many patients choose our Invisalign or Invisalign Teen orthodontic treatment. Our orthodontists here at CFSS Braces are the only “Top 1%” Invisalign provider in Central New York, treating more Invisalign patients than 99% of the other Invisalign providers in North America! If you’ve chosen to use our Invisalign or Invisalign Teen clear aligners, your brushing and flossing will not be much different than it was before you started orthodontic treatment.


Brush & floss normally. Use the same procedures as above for brushing your teeth. We still recommend flossing with a waxed-coated floss but the procedure is simplified without having to thread floss under your braces wires.​​​

Brush & clean aligners. You will be wearing your Invisalign aligners 22 hours a day, only removing them for eating. That makes it especially important that you clean your aligners each time you take them out. Your CFSS orthodontists recommend brushing your aligners gently with a fluoride toothpaste. You want to be careful not to scratch the plastic. Rinse aligners under cool water before putting them back in your mouth.​​​

Soaking aligners. To give your aligners a cleaner, fresher feel consider soaking your aligners every couple of days in water with a denture cleaner, baking soda mixture, or special aligner cleaners.


Let CFSS Help Make You Smile Today!

The CFSS Braces team knows that good oral hygiene is crucial to maintaining healthy teeth and gums during your orthodontic treatment. We will do all we can to help you keep your braces and aligners clean so that your treatment will stay on schedule and avoid any cavities or plaque build up. We will also guide you in choosing the best foods to choose when wearing braces or Invisalign aligners. Choosing safe foods can help minimize the damage to braces and reduce levels of sugar that help plaque and tooth decay form. If you have questions about brushing, flossing or caring for your braces or Invisalign aligners, give us a call today at (315) 458-0020 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Callahan, Dr. Flanagan, Dr. Smith, or Dr. Stock in our Fayetteville, Fulton, or Syracuse orthodontist office. We are happy to discuss any concerns and keep you on the right track for your new, beautiful smile.



CFS Braces

Hear What Our Patients Are Saying

Love my braces. I was really surprised how quickly my teeth moved. I also like the color selection, it makes the entire time much more fun. I could tell Dr. Callahan cared about my future and that means a lot. you guys are great Thank you. : )

Great child friendly environment. The staff is wonderful and very helpful. State of the art equipment and knowledgeable. The office strives to make our child comfortable and the experience Is excellent.

My brother and I have both gone to CFSS and we both have had only great experiences, I actually like going to the orthodontist! They treat their patients so well.

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