How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth With Braces?

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While proper oral hygiene is always important, it is even more so when you have braces on.  Braces are designed to straighten teeth, but they can also make brushing a little challenging. Follow the tips below to ensure you have clean teeth, even with braces. 

Challenges of Brushing Your Teeth With Braces

Cleaning around Brackets

A challenge of brushing your teeth with braces is getting the area around the brackets clean.  Those brackets are traps for plaque and food, so it’s important to thoroughly clean around them.  If not, over time, food and bacteria will accumulate around the brackets, leading to cavities.  


Flossing with braces can be challenging because the wires prevent you from flossing normally. To floss with braces you need to thread the floss above the wire to get to the gumline.  Without the right tools it can be very difficult to do this.  I recommend using an orthodontic floss threader to help with this task.  

Effects of Not Brushing Teeth With Braces


Demineralization occurs when bacteria comes into contact with the food that is left on your teeth.  The bacteria creates acid, which causes decalcification.  You can tell decalcification has occurred when you see white spots or scars on the tooth.  

Once the braces are removed it is common to see a chalky, white outline around the brackets of patients who did not brush well.  Those white spots are usually sensitive and will lead to cavities.  Unfortunately, demineralization scars are often permanent, so it is important to take care of your teeth.  


Gingivitis occurs on the gums when the tissue around the teeth become inflamed. If not taken care of, gingivitis will turn into gum disease.  Symptoms of gingivitis include swelling, redness, and swelling.  While anyone can get gingivitis, those with braces are at risk of getting gingivitis because cleaning around the gumline can be challenging.  

Bad Breath

Bad breath is usually caused by poor oral hygiene.  When food particles are left in your mouth and on your teeth, bacteria feeds on them, creating an odor. For those who wear braces, food particles often get stuck around the brackets.  Not cleaning the area well will lead to bad breath. 

Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is produced by saliva and food particles. When plaque combines with sugar it forms an acid that can cause tooth decay.  

When plaque is left on the tooth’s surface it hardens and becomes tartar, or calculus. Tartar causes tooth discoloration and makes it difficult to clean plaque.  It is common for tartar to form on the gum line and around the brackets. 

How Long Should You Brush Your Teeth With Braces

Brushing your teeth with braces is similar to brushing without braces.  The difference is that you need to be more careful with brushing around the brackets and at the gumline. Many people ask how long should you brush your teeth with braces?  

As a rule of thumb, you should brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes. If you can, it is best to brush your teeth after every meal to remove any food that may have gotten stuck.  If you are unable to brush after every meal, try rinsing your mouth out with water instead. 

You should brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes.

When brushing your teeth with braces you should use a fluoride toothpaste, as it helps to prevent cavities.  Some dentists recommend a fluoride rinse as well.  

Floss your teeth daily using a floss threader and waxed dental floss.  Or, if you prefer, you can also use a water flosser instead of traditional floss.  

Tips for Brushing Your Teeth With Braces

  • Rinse with water.  Before brushing, rinse your mouth out with water.  This will remove and loosen some food stuck to your braces. 
  • Make good food choices. Certain foods are not compatible with braces. Avoid chewy and sticky foods and sugary beverages. 
  • Use an interdental brush before brushing.  This will loosen food particles from around the brackets.
  • Use an electric toothbrush with an orthodontic head.  These toothbrushes are made specifically to clean around brackets and wires.  Change your brush heads frequently, as the brackets will cause them to wear out faster than usual. 
  • Brush using a circular motion.  Be sure to brush both above and below each bracket.
  • Prepare to spend 2-3 minutes brushing your teeth.  Electric toothbrushes often have a built in timer that helps with that. 


It is important to brush your teeth properly with braces. The effects of not brushing well are gingivitis, demineralization, and bad breath. Many people want to know how long should you brush your teeth with braces.  You should spend at least 2 minutes brushing your teeth, twice a day.