Updated on February 22, 2024
6 min read

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

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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 vital for oral health, especially with braces.

young woman with braces flossing her teeth

Only about 41% of people in the U.S. floss daily. Braces add a layer of complication because the wire connecting the braces (archwire) prevents flossing with the traditional method. 

Brace wires may deter some people from flossing regularly. This can lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Fortunately, there are various flossing tools and methods to help you clean between your teeth and maneuver around the metal brackets and wires, such as: 

  • Traditional floss with a floss threader
  • Dental tape with a threader
  • Superfloss
  • Water flosser

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5 Tools to Help You Floss With Braces

Flossing with braces doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. 

Here are some products and techniques to help you floss effectively:

1. Traditional Dental Floss

Traditional floss (string floss) is an interdental product that effectively cleans between your teeth. It’s available in both waxed and unwaxed forms. However, waxed floss is easier to use between your teeth.

If you choose to use string floss with braces, you’ll 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 and Cons

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

Pros include:

  • Affordable
  • Simple to use
  • Gets the job done

Cons include:

  • Requires a threader to use with braces
  • 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 dental floss except that it’s broader and flat.2

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

Pros and Cons

Dental tape can be easier to use for people who have sensitive gums after getting braces. If your gums are swollen, traditional flossing can be painful and cause your gums to bleed. 

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

3. Floss Threader

Floss threaders aren’t used to floss your teeth directly. You use them to thread floss or dental tape behind your braces wire. 

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

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 metal bar on your braces. 

Pros and Cons

Floss threaders can be beneficial when using traditional floss or dental tape with braces. However, floss threaders aren’t 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

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 and Cons

Superfloss is excellent for cleaning hard-to-reach places. This helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease while wearing braces. 

But the spongy floss may not fit between all teeth. 

5. Water Flosser 

A water flosser can be super helpful because it doesn’t require threading. Also known as an oral irrigator, a water flosser uses water to clean between your teeth. It shoots a strong and fine stream of water to flush out food from between your teeth.1

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 and Cons

Research shows that a water flosser is up to 50 percent more effective in improving gum health than traditional floss.1

However, some experts argue that water flossers can’t be considered replacements for conventional flossing.1

How to Get the Most Out of Flossing With Braces

Flossing is a crucial part of protecting your dental health. However, there are other steps you need to take to prevent oral health problems. 

Here’s how to get the most out of your flossing routine while wearing braces:

  • Floss regularly Clean along the gum line and between teeth daily
  • Brush your teeth Do this twice daily and consider using fluoride toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay
  • Schedule routine cleanings Your dental hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and ensure you’re flossing correctly at home

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Why It’s Important to Floss With Braces

Flossing is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene. Dental floss helps clean between your teeth and in spaces that your toothbrush can’t get.5

Flossing is essential because it helps remove food debris and plaque from your teeth. This helps maintain oral hygiene and prevent gum disease. All of this helps to keep your teeth strong and prevent other orthodontic issues.5

Common Questions About Flossing With Braces

Should you brush or floss first with braces?

Flossing before you brush is more effective at removing plaque. Additionally, this helps improve the absorption of fluoride from your toothpaste.

Is it better to floss or Waterpik with braces?

Studies funded by Waterpik show that a water flosser is more effective than regular floss in people with braces.1

Does an electric toothbrush clean better with braces?

Some people find that electric toothbrushes clean their teeth better than manual brushes. Electric brushes often include timers and pressure sensors that monitor your brushing. Talk to your dentist about which type of brush is best for you.

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Summary

Flossing with braces can be challenging, but it’s essential to remove plaque and keep your teeth clean. 

Various tools and methods can make flossing with braces easier. It’s also important to brush your teeth and keep up with regular dental cleanings.

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Last updated on February 22, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Waterpik® Water Flossers.” Water Pik, Inc., nd.
  2. Dental Tape or Floss: Which Is Best for You?” Colgate-Palmolive Company, nd.
  3. Fleming, et al. “Prevalence of Daily Flossing among Adults by Selected Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease — United States, 2009-2014.” Journal of Periodontology, 2018.
  4. Floss/Interdental Cleaners.” American Dental Association, 2021.
  5. How Important Is Flossing Your Teeth?” Colgate-Palmolive Company, nd.
  6. Super Floss for Braces, Bridges and Wide Gaps.” Procter & Gamble, nd.
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