Got Braces? Here's How You Can Keep Your Teeth Clean Underneath the Metal

Dec 13, 2023
Got Braces? Here's How You Can Keep Your Teeth Clean Underneath the Metal
When you have braces, the big payoff happens when treatment ends—when your braces come off and you finally have your dream smile. But keeping your teeth clean during the process matters. Here’s how.

At any given time, more than four million Americans are wearing braces to address teeth issues like crowding or bite problems. Remarkably, about 25% of orthodontic patients are adults.

 As more and more adults entered the orthodontics market, the treatment options, particularly the types of braces and materials used, also grew. Today’s orthodontists can offer patients a robust menu of treatment options from traditional metal braces to clear aligners.

In this blog, Dr. Jean Seibold McGill at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, does a deep dive into orthodontics, why sometimes metal braces are best, and how you can keep your teeth squeaky clean underneath those wires and brackets.

Orthodontic treatment explained

Let’s take a step back to look at how orthodontics, or more specifically, tooth movement, works. Regardless of which type of orthodontic treatment you pursue, the basic principle is the same. 

 The goal of orthodontics is to gently shift your teeth and the underlying tissue into new, optimal positions over time. Old teeth positions are abandoned and new positions are created. In medical terms, the process is bone resorption and ossification. 

During orthodontic treatment, bone cells known as osteoclasts break down old bone in the old tooth positions and are reabsorbed into your body. Once treatment shifts your teeth into their new spots, bone cells called osteoblasts take over by creating new bone through ossification. 


Each time you chew or bite your food, osteoblasts strengthen the new bone formation, in effect reinforcing the process.

Metal braces still play a role in orthodontics

You may wonder if the orthodontics process is essentially the same whether you go with traditional metal braces or clear aligners like Invisalign® or the Spark™ clear aligner system.

 Absolutely, says Dr. McGill, and it’s not simply a personal appearance or aesthetic decision. Having choices is great, but drilling down to what treatment is right for you comes around to the issues being resolved, the severity of those issues, your treatment goals, and in some cases expense. 

Metal braces are more adept at fixing severe crowding issues than other orthodontic options. They give your orthodontist more precise control to move your teeth in small increments at a time.

Doubling down on oral hygiene 

While metal braces may still be the best bet for many patients, they do present challenges, especially when it comes to keeping your teeth clean underneath the metal wires and brackets. Plaque and tartar know no bounds, so during your orthodontic treatment, you want to raise your at-home oral hygiene routine to the next level.

 We use the Damon™ System at our practice, which has some distinct advantages when it comes to keeping your teeth clean and free of food debris during treatment. Specifically, the Damon System uses a proprietary slide mechanism to connect archwires to the bracket. This patented system not only eliminates elastic ties but also allows the wire to move freely, making it a breeze to clean around.
We provide you with cleaning tips and show you how to use some handy tools like special toothbrushes called interproximal brushes, which will help you reach all those new nooks and crannies between the wires and brackets.

Recommendations for hygiene care

At first, the extra steps to keeping your teeth clean under your braces may seem cumbersome, the more diligent you are during the average day, the more routine the process becomes.


The first logical step is to temporarily remove all those problematic foods like sticky candy and gum, hard foods like popcorn, nuts, and chips, and crunchy foods like whole apples and carrots. Not only can these foods easily get stuck in your braces, but they also may bend or damage them.

 Plan on adding these key things to your hygiene routine:

  • Floss at least once a day before brushing
  • Brush after every snack and meal using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash twice a day
  • Continue professional hygiene cleanings and routine checkups

 If you need braces and are concerned about how to keep your teeth clean during treatment, contact McGill Orthodontics to schedule a free orthodontic consultation. Call our office most convenient to you or request your appointment online today.