How Can I Prevent Bad Breath While Wearing Braces?

Nothing can throw off your day more than bad breath. Normally, regular brushing and flossing can ward off bad breath. But, if you have braces, it will be more difficult to keep your smile clean and fresh. At Dougherty Orthodontics, we want all of our patients to smile bright, so we’ve come up with a few ways to keep bad breath away.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath is a problem everyone can face, even if you don’t have braces. But if you do have braces, you may be more prone to experience bad breath. There are a few reasons behind your breath being a bit worse with braces. These can range from food becoming trapped, bacteria build-up, and poor hygiene and diet habits. Let’s break these down.

Food Particles

One of the biggest issues you’ll face when wearing braces is bits of food becoming trapped in and around your appliance. Brackets, wires, and bands make up your braces, and each piece can turn into a hotspot for food to settle.

If these food particles aren’t removed, they’ll begin to decompose and start releasing the smelly odor that can make your breath less than pleasant.

Bacteria Build-Up

Your smile is home to a vast and diverse number of bacteria, some good and some bad. When you have food, plaque, or other nutrient-rich pieces build up in your smile, it allows an environment that’ll grow VSCs (volatile sulfur compounds). These are types of bacteria that give off the foul-smelling odor you’re trying to get rid of.

Poor Oral Hygiene

When you wear braces, you’re taking on a whole new level of hygiene responsibilities. If you don’t stay on top of your hygiene, those pesky food and bacteria particles will start to build up. Now, even if you are brushing every day twice a day with braces, you’ll need to put extra effort into keeping everything healthy and happy.


Did you know that your saliva plays a huge role in keeping your smile healthy and keeping bad breath at bay? Being hydrated keeps your saliva going in full force, washing away food particles, cleaning out bacteria, and even providing disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth.

Diet Factors

While you’ll already have some new diet restrictions with your braces, there are a few other foods that may be good for your braces but bad for your breath. Foods with strong odors, such as garlic and onions, can be a big factor in creating bad breath. 

Plus, those sugary foods and drinks we tell you to keep away from can promote the growth of those smelly VSCs we discussed earlier.

How Can I Prevent Bad Breath While Wearing Braces?

Keeping Your Breath Fresh

Your smile and braces need the best to keep you healthy and happy. Not only does good hygiene keep your breath fresh, but it also wards off diseases like gingivitis. With braces, you’ll have more pieces to keep in mind when you’re cleaning your smile. At Dougherty Orthodontics, we’re here to provide you with a few tips and tricks to keep your smile in its best shape.


The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day, but with braces, it’s better to brush after each meal or snack to keep those food particles from building up. 

Using a soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste can keep bacteria and plaque build-up around your braces. Use gentle circular motions around your teeth and gums for a thorough cleaning of both your teeth and braces.


Flossing is like taking your cleaning to the next level. While brushing is important, it can’t always get into the little pockets between your teeth and braces. Using a floss threader or orthodontics flossers can help you navigate between those hard-to-reach places and knock out unwanted debris. 

Focus on flossing under your archwire and move the floss between your teeth to ensure you leave nothing untouched. A water floss or interdental cleaners may also help clean out those hard-to-reach areas.


As one more wall of protection, using antibacterial mouthwash can break down and flush out any smelly or unwanted bacteria in every space of your smile. Think of it as the final inspection, combing over and in between your smiles to find the last of the bacteria. It’s best to use a mouthwash that is alcohol-free to avoid dry mouth, which can make bad breath worse.

Tongue Cleaning

Your tongue can harbor a ton of bacteria and food debris that can cause bad breath. Regular tongue cleaning, using a tongue scraper or a toothbrush with a built-in tongue cleaner, can remove the bacteria and reduce bad breath. You should clean your tongue gently to avoid any irritation.

Regular Orthodontic Visits

Coming to your routine appointments at Dougherty Orthodontics not only lets us monitor your treatment but also your smile health. If we notice issues like gingivitis or worse, we might recommend a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar that at-home solutions can’t eliminate.

How Can I Prevent Bad Breath While Wearing Braces?

Smiling Bright At Dougherty Orthodontics

At Dougherty Orthodontics, Dr. Dougherty and our team will work with you so that when you get your braces, you’ll have the tools and the knowledge to keep them clean. If you’re interested in braces or have a few questions about your smile, schedule your free consultation today! We’re always ready to create dream smiles in St. Louis.