How Do Oral Hygiene Practices Differ for Braces and Clear Aligners Users?

Taking care of your teeth is super important, especially when you’re straightening them with braces or clear aligners at Dougherty Orthodontics. Keeping your smile healthy during treatment might seem tricky, but it’s totally doable. Let’s dive into how you can keep your teeth clean, whether you have braces or clear aligners.

Understanding Braces & Clear Aligners

Braces use metal brackets and wires to move your teeth into the right spots. They’re great for fixing lots of dental issues but need special care. At Dougherty Orthodontics, we also offer LightForce braces, which use 3D-printed brackets made just for you. This means they fit better and often work faster.

Clear aligners, like 3M Clarity Advanced, are clear, removable trays that gently move your teeth. They’re almost invisible and can be taken out when you eat and brush your teeth, which is a big plus!

Oral Hygiene Challenges With Braces

Braces can make brushing and flossing a bit of a hassle. Food and plaque can easily get stuck around the brackets and wires, which might lead to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some easy tips:

Brushing: Use a special orthodontic or electric toothbrush made for braces. Brush after every meal to get rid of food and plaque. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use small, gentle circles to clean each tooth and around the brackets. And don’t forget to brush your tongue!

Flossing: Flossing with braces can be tricky. Use floss threaders to help get the floss under the wires. Interdental brushes or water flossers can also make cleaning between your teeth and around the brackets easier. These tools help you get rid of food particles and plaque that brushing might cause you to miss.

Using Mouthwash: Adding mouthwash to your daily routine can help reach areas that brushing and flossing might miss. Look for a mouthwash with fluoride to make your teeth stronger. Rinse with mouthwash after brushing and flossing for extra protection against bacteria.

Regular Check-Ups: Regular visits to Dr. Dougherty for check-ups and cleanings are super important. We’ll make sure your teeth and braces are clean and catch any problems early. Professional cleanings can remove plaque and tartar buildup that you might miss at home.

Oral Hygiene Challenges With Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are easier to keep clean than braces but have their own challenges. Plaque can build up on the aligners if not cleaned regularly. Plus, food particles can get trapped against your teeth if you don’t brush before putting the aligners back in. Here’s how to keep your aligners and teeth clean:

Brushing: Brush your teeth and aligners after every meal to prevent food particles and plaque from getting trapped. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid scratching the aligners. Brushing both your teeth and aligners helps keep them clean and clear.

Cleaning Aligners: Clean your aligners with clear, antibacterial soap or special aligner cleaning solutions. Don’t use toothpaste on them as it can scratch the plastic. Proper cleaning of your aligners helps prevent bacteria buildup and keeps them fresh.

Flossing: Since aligners are removable, flossing is usually easier than with braces. Floss at least once a day to keep your teeth clean. Regular flossing helps prevent cavities and keeps your gums healthy.

Storing Aligners: Always store your aligners in their case when not in use. This keeps them clean and prevents them from getting lost or damaged. Proper storage also helps keep your aligners in shape.

How Do Oral Hygiene Practices Differ for Braces and Clear Aligners Users?

Comparing Oral Hygiene Practices

Both braces and clear aligners need good brushing and flossing habits, but the methods are a bit different. Braces need more time and effort to clean around brackets and wires, while aligners need regular removal and cleaning. 

Both need regular check-ups to keep your teeth healthy. Here’s a quick comparison:


More time is needed to clean around brackets and wires. They need special tools like floss threaders and interdental brushes.

Clear Aligners

Easier to clean because they are removable. Regular brushing of aligners and teeth is required.

Tips for Keeping Good Oral Hygiene

These tips will help you keep good oral hygiene, no matter which treatment you choose:

Be Consistent: Stick to a regular cleaning schedule to prevent plaque buildup and keep your teeth and gums healthy. Regular cleaning habits lead to better oral health.

Use the Right Tools: Orthodontic toothbrushes, floss threaders, interdental brushes, and water flossers can make cleaning easier. Using the right tools helps you clean more effectively.

Avoid Certain Foods: With braces, avoid sticky, hard, and sugary foods that can damage the brackets and wires. Avoid eating with aligners to prevent stains and damage. Being careful with your diet helps protect your orthodontic appliances and keep your mouth healthy.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps wash away food particles and bacteria, keeping your mouth clean. Staying hydrated supports overall oral health and keeps your breath fresh.

Ask for Advice: Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Dougherty or the team at Dougherty Orthodontics for advice on keeping your teeth clean with your braces or aligners.

How Do Oral Hygiene Practices Differ for Braces and Invisalign Users?

Keeping Your Smile Healthy at Dougherty Orthodontics

Keeping your teeth clean during orthodontic treatment is super important for a healthy smile. Following these tips can help keep your teeth bright and healthy. Want to learn more about our orthodontic treatments? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Dougherty at Dougherty Orthodontics in St. Louis today!