How To Clean And Care For Your Braces

Is Easier Than You Think

Dr. Lazzara is dedicated to helping patients of all ages achieve and maintain excellent oral health, and the best way to ensure you have a clean and healthy smile is by brushing and flossing your teeth. It’s extremely important to take care of your braces, teeth, and gums while you’re in orthodontic treatment, and these brushing and flossing tips will give you the best possible result. To learn about different types of braces, visit our Treatment Info page.

Brushing and Flossing

Maintaining Great Oral Health


Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush in small, circular motions. Be sure to cover all areas between your teeth, between the braces, and on the surface of each tooth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse. Remember, proper brushing should take several minutes to complete.

While you’re in orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily–after breakfast, after lunch or right after school, after dinner, and at bedtime–to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces.

Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing, and be sure to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment for optimal hygiene. Finally, you will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your treatment. As soon as the bristles on your toothbrush start to wear down or fray, replace it with a new one.


Flossing takes more time and patience when you have braces, but it’s important to floss every day because it removes food particles and plaque in areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach.

Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader, and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You’ll know when the tooth is clean because you’ll hear the floss squeak against your teeth. Be careful when flossing around your archwire; you don’t want to floss too forcefully or apply too much pressure. After flossing between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.

If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser, then wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, and pull out the food particles and plaque. Unwrap the clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have use the floss from beginning to end. Be sure to floss behind all of your back teeth, too!

Floss at night to ensure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little, which is okay. However, if the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let us know at your next appointment.

Eating With Braces

The Essential Lists

Foods to Avoid with Braces

  • Chewy foods — bagels, licorice
  • Crunchy foods — popcorn, chips, ice
  • Sticky foods — caramel candies, chewing gum (sugar-free gum is okay)
  • Foods you have to bite into — corn on the cob, apples, carrots
  • Hard foods — nuts, hard candies

Foods You can Eat with Braces

  • Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
  • Seafood — tuna, salmon, crab cakes
  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads — soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
  • Fruits — applesauce, bananas, sliced fruit, most berries (but watch out for seeds)
  • Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats
  • Vegetables — mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, cake

Helpful Tips

  • We recommend you use a soft bristled tooth brush with a small head. Electric and sonic toothbrushes are also acceptable.
  • Brush your teeth after meals and snacks.
  • If you have eaten while away from home, use your interdental brush to dislodge any food that may get caught around your braces.
  • Rinsing with water is another way to dislodge food from your braces, and to keep sugar from sitting on your teeth.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • We recommend that you have a check up with your dentist every 6 months.

Emergency Information

What To Do

Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.

Wire Irritations

Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.

Broken Brackets / Bands

In the event that a bracket or band comes loose from a tooth, it is important for you to call our office immediately. Do not wait until your next appointment to see if we can fix it then! More time is necessary to repair breakages and we need to schedule accordingly.

At your last appointment, Dr. Lazzara recorded what he was planning to do at your next appointment. They know how long it takes to perform each procedure and our office schedules accordingly to stay on time and dedicate proper time to each of our patients. That is why we will often reschedule to repair broken braces. We realize this may inconvenience your schedule and therefore we ask that we be notified in advance — even if the breakage occurs earlier in the day of your appointment.

When you have a broken bracket or band, please bring it with you to your repair appointment. Often it can be repaired, cleaned and replaced. It is our office policy to repair several breakages at no additional cost to you. If breakage becomes excessive, there is a fee for repairs.

Remember, when braces are broken, treatment completion is often delayed. Help us give you the smile you want — on time!

Loose Brackets / Bands

Call our office immediately for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.

Lost Separators

Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.

Discomfort With Orthodontic Treatment

During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.

Call us at (904) 270-8750 for more information.

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