How to Floss With Braces (Step-by-Step)

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Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
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Evidence Based
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6 sources cited
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How to Floss With Braces 

Flossing with braces can be difficult at first and requires patience. 

However, cleaning the food debris and plaque from your teeth is important for oral health, especially with braces. 

Only about 32 percent of adults aged 30 years and up, including 26 percent of men and 37 percent of women, floss every day—with or without braces. 

Braces add a layer of complication, which may deter some people from flossing.3

Fortunately, there are tools to help thread the floss between your teeth and maneuver around the metal brackets and wires for a deep clean.

For example, you can use orthodontic appliances like a floss threader while wearing braces. 

A floss threader looks like a plastic needle. You thread the floss and push the threader behind the wires to get between your teeth.

You can also use different types of floss to get rid of food particles and plaque buildup with braces. Here are a few options:

1. Traditional Floss

Traditional floss is an interdental product that effectively cleans between your teeth. It’s a very thin strand of twisted plastic monofilaments or nylon filaments.4

How to Use Traditional Floss With Braces

If you are going to use traditional floss with braces, you need a floss threader.4 

To use traditional floss, follow these steps:

  1. Rip off a piece of floss about 18 inches in length.
  2. Thread the floss on a floss threader.
  3. Dip the floss threader behind your braces and pull the floss through.
  4. Once the floss is behind your braces, wrap either end of the strand around your index fingers.
  5. Slide the floss between two teeth and in a C-shape.
  6. Floss gently between your teeth, reaching the gum line.
  7. Rinse with mouthwash after flossing to flush out any food particles flossing dislodges from between your teeth. 
  8. Dentists also recommend brushing after you floss. 

Pros & Cons

Using a floss threader can help lace the floss behind the braces wires, so you can reach between your teeth. 

However, there are pros and cons to using traditional floss, especially with braces.4

Pros of traditional floss include:

  • Affordable
  • Simple to use
  • Gets the job done

Cons of traditional floss include:

  • Not so easy to use with braces
  • Can be uncomfortable or cause bleeding in sensitive gums

2. Dental Tape

Dental tape is very similar to traditional floss except that it is broader and flat.2

How to Use Dental Tape With Braces

Use dental tape with braces the same way you would use traditional floss. Thread a floss threader to reach between your teeth.2

Pros & Cons

The pros and cons of dental tape are similar to those of traditional floss. 

While dental tape is affordable and easy to use in most cases, braces can make using the tape challenging.2

3. Floss Threaders

Floss threaders are not used to directly floss your teeth. Rather, they thread traditional floss or dental tape to floss your teeth.

How to Use Floss Threaders With Braces

Again, to use a floss threader, break off a piece of floss about 18 inches in length. 

Loop the strand through the threader. Then loop the threader behind the mental bar on your braces. 

Pros & Cons

Floss threaders can be very helpful for flossing with traditional floss or dental tape when you have braces. However, floss threaders are not necessarily the easiest way to floss with braces.

Other types of floss don’t require any threading but still clean your teeth, even with braces.

4. Superfloss 

Superfloss is ideal for cleaning along the gum line and between teeth with braces, bridges, and wide gaps. 

It has three parts:6 

  1. A stiff end threader
  2. Spongy floss
  3. Regular floss

How to Use Superfloss With Braces

Use Superfloss with braces like you would with other floss. 

Thread the strand to reach behind your braces. Then floss with both the spongy floss and the regular floss.6

Pros & Cons

Superfloss is great for cleaning hard-to-reach places and preventing tooth decay while wearing braces. But the spongy floss may not fit between all teeth. 

5. Water Flossers 

Water flossers are super helpful because they don’t require threading. 

They use water to clean between your teeth. The Waterpik, for example, shoots a strong and fine shot of water to flush out food from between your teeth.1

How to Use Oral Irrigators With Braces

Oral irrigators flush away food particles and debris from between your teeth. Simply aim the water flosser between your teeth for 30 to 60 seconds.1

Pros & Cons

A Waterpik is up to twice as effective in cleaning around implants. It’s up to three times as effective in removing plaque around braces than string floss.  

Some research shows that Waterpiks are up to 50 percent more effective in improving gum health than traditional floss.1

On the other hand, some experts argue that water flossers can’t be considered replacements for traditional floss.1

Why it’s Important to Floss With or Without Braces

Flossing helps clean between your teeth. Dental floss reaches the insides of your teeth that your toothbrush can’t get.5

In general, flossing is important because it helps remove plaque and food particles, maintain oral hygiene, and fight gum disease. 

All of this helps to keep your teeth strong and prevent other orthodontic issues.5

Resources

Countertop Water Flosser.Shop Countertop & Cordless Water Flossers | Waterpik®.

Dental Tape or Floss: Which Is Best for You?Colgate®: Toothpaste, Toothbrushes & Oral Care Resources.

Fleming, Eleanor B, et al. “Prevalence of Daily Flossing among Adults by Selected Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease-United States, 2011-2014.” Journal of Periodontology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2018.

Floss/Interdental Cleaners.” American Dental Association.

How Important Is Flossing Your Teeth?Colgate® IN.

Super Floss for Braces, Bridges and Wide Gaps.” Oral.

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