Our dental braces help straighten your teeth and give you a beautiful smile. To make sure your braces work effectively, it’s essential that you take proper care of them. On this page, we’ll discuss dental braces care instructions that will help you keep your braces clean and healthy.

Eating with braces

Safe foods for braces

Eating will be difficult for the first week or so as braces can make your teeth tender for the first week. To make things easier, cut food into small pieces and eat soft foods until you are more comfortable. 

Certain foods can damage your braces and get caught between them making cleaning difficult. You should avoid hard, chewy and sticky foods as well as sugary foods and drinks. Below is a table of foods to avoid. 

What foods are you not allowed to eat with braces?

Hard Foods

Stick Foods

Whole Foods (cut them up)

Ice cubes

Sticky lollies


Nuts and nut bars



Popcorn kernels


Crusty rolls



Bones (pork crackle, spare ribs etc)

Hard shell tacos


Corn on the cob

Corn chips


Biting your nails

Muesli bars

Pens and pencils

What are the parts of braces called?

Here is a photo of our cutting-edge self-ligating braces. It identifies their basic components. If you encounter any issues, this will make it easier for you to contact our team. 

Parts of braces

Brushing your teeth and braces

Brush your teeth is important to keep them clean and healthy. With dental braces it is even more important to brush them properly. You should brush them at least twice a day for 4 minutes. It is ideal if you brush them after every meal. You can use an electric or manual toothbrush.

There are 3 surfaces of each tooth to clean

  1. The outside:
    • Start under the braces with the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and use a circular motion.
    • Then brush above the braces with the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the braces, using the same circular motion.
  2. The chewing surfaces: use a back-and-forth motion on each tooth.
  3. The inside surfaces: use the small end of the brush to reach each tooth and brush in a circular motion.
How to brush with braces

What toothpaste is best with braces?

Fluoride strengthens the enamel and helps protect your teeth from damage and decay. Our orthodontists recommend you use a toothpaste containing fluoride. Most of the big name toothpastes you buy from the supermarket will contain fluoride. This includes most Colgate, Oral B, Macleans and Sensodyne. 

Flossing with braces

Do I need to floss with braces?

No matter how well you brush your teeth, there are areas the tooth brush is too big to reach. This is why it is essential to floss with braces! Although this is more difficult with braces, with some time and patience you will get the hang of it. 

How often do I need to floss with braces?

Cleaning between the teeth and under the braces must be done every 24 hours to remove food and plaque. If plaque is not removed within 24 hours, it starts to harden and become calculus. Once it becomes hard, you cannot remove it at home and it will become a home to more germs and bacteria. 

How can I floss with braces?

There are many different products you can find at the supermarket or the chemist that will help you floss. 

  • Superfloss or gorilla floss: thicker than regular floss, this allows you to thread the floss up behind the wire. Once threaded through, you can use it as you would regular floss. Then remove it, and repeat on the next teeth. 
  • Interdental brushes: these are small tufted brushes designed to clean between your teeth. They come in different sizes, often colour coordinated. With braces they should be used in the following way
    • Place under the wire. Place gentle pressure against the teeth and do an up and down motion. Repeat around the whole mouth.
    • Place above and below the brace. Use with a back-and-forth motion like a mini-toothbrush. 
    • Between the teeth
      • At the front of the mouth use a straight interdental brush and gently pass between the teeth. Move it back and forth a few times
      • At the back of the mouth, bend the interdental brush and gently pass between the teeth. Move it back and forth a few times.
  • Water flosser: this sprays a jet of water that can be aimed between the teeth to clean off food and plaque. They can be messy at first. 

Images showing how to use interdental brushes with braces

Why does flossing hurt and cause bleeding?

If you are not a regular flossing, flossing may be painful and cause the gums to bleed. This is because the areas of the gum have not been cleaned properly and the area is inflammed, also known as gingivitis. If this happens to you, keep cleaning between the teeth gently and this should settle after about one week. If you have any concerns, phone our friendly team at Ellenbrook Orthodontics. 

Can I use whitening products with braces?

While your braces are on, you should avoid all whitening products. This includes whitening toothpaste. The whitening agent only works on the place it touches, so it won’t be able to whiten where the braces are. If you are concerned about the colour of your teeth, discuss it with our specialist orthodontist for professional advice after completing your braces treatment. 

What happens if you don't clean your teeth properly with braces?

If your cleaning is poor during treatment, you may get permanent damage to your teeth and gums.

Plaque Buildup: If you don’t clean your teeth properly with braces, food particles and plaque can accumulate around the braces and wires, leading to plaque buildup. Plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay or cavities that require fillings, gum disease, and bad breath.

Discoloration: Improper cleaning of your teeth with braces can cause permanent discoloration of your teeth. These look like permanent scars on your teeth in the shape of the brackets. This happens because where the bracket is glued to the tooth is protected, but the area surrounding has the calcium removed and becomes white or yellow in colour.  This is often irreversible. 

This is why it is important to listen to Dr Simone Mustac and her team at Ellenbrook Orthodontics. They will advise you how to clean your teeth properly to avoid this. 

What to expect when you get your braces on

Do braces hurt?

Tenderness or mild of the teeth is normal and usually lasts 2-4 days. This is normal as braces put a gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth to align them. The pain can be managed with over the counter medication. At Ellenbrook Orthodontics we recommend you take what you would normally for a headache (panadol or nurofen). During this period we recommend you stick to softer foods like rice, pasta, mashed potato etc. The pain will slowly go away on its own. 

What are bite stops?

Often we place “bite stops” on your back teeth for a short period to prevent you from closing fully and beaking the braces. These may be white or blue in colour. They will feel uncomfortable for 2-4 days when closing your mouth. Don’t worry, this is normal and you will adapt to them. 

Irritated lips and cheeks from braces

When you first start wearing braces, they may rub and irritate your lips and cheeks. Use the provided orthodontic wax if this occurs. Pinch off a piece of wax about the size of a pea, warm it between your fingers, dry the bracket, and then press the wax onto the bracket. If swallowed, the wax is harmless. To aid in healing, regular three times a day warm salt water will help. Stir 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and swish around your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit it out. 

Teeth feeling loose with braces

Don’t worry if your teeth feel a bit loose with braces – this is normal. Teeth must first loosen a little so that they can be moved. Once they are in their correct positions, they will become firm again. 

Wearing a mouthguard with braces

Keeping your teeth safe from damage while wearing braces is crucial. You should use a re-mouldable or “boil and bite” mouthguard if you participate in any contact sports. This enables you to modify the mouthguard as the teeth shift during the course of your orthodontic treatment. Our orthodontist can fit this for you the same day your braces are fitted, just phone us and let us know!

Can I play a musical instrument with braces on?

The answer is yes! We want you to continue playing the music you love during your orthodontic treatment. If you play a wind musical instrument, please let our team know so we can provide some advice.

How often do I need to see the orthodontist for my braces?

Regular visits to your orthodontist every 6 to 10 weeks are crucial to ensuring that your braces are working correctly. Your orthodontist will check your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your braces. Please arrive on time and brush your teeth before seeing us. If you can’t attend your appointment, please phone or email us at least 24 hours prior. 

Do I still need to see my dentist during braces treatment?

Yes, you do! Make sure you see your general dentist at least every 6 months for a check-up and clean during orthodontic treatment. Although we check your brushing and flossing, we do not have the equipment required to check for decay and other problems during treatment. 

Common problems with dental braces

Poking or sharp wires

You may occasionally notice a protruding wire. As the teeth straighten, the extra wire may protrude from the back, causing this. Phone us to schedule a visit, and until then, apply the orthodontic wax to the affected area.

Broken bracket or wire

On rare occasions, the wire or bracket may come undone from the tooth. If you follow our advice, this shouldn’t happen. Regular interruptions will make the treatment take longer and/or affect your results. If there is a breakage, phone us right away to schedule an appointment. Be aware that we might not be able to accommodate you for these repairs after school.

Do I need to wear elastic bands with dental braces?

In order to correct the bite, most patients need elastic bands during treatment. Without your cooperation, your treatment will take longer to complete, and/or you’ll get a compromised result. 

Tips to master wearing your elastic bands

  • Wear as directed by your orthodontist. Full-time refers to all the time, excluding eating and tooth brushing.
  • Always keep a backup bag on hand.
  • You can get extra bags from our reception if you need them.
  • When using the elastics, your teeth could feel sensitive. If you frequently start and stop wearing them, this will make the discomfort worse. It will pass in a few days if you persist and, if necessary, take some panadol.
  • At least twice daily, replace them with a fresh set.

Will I need a retainer after dental braces?

Yes, everyone who has braces needs some sort of retainers. At the completion of your braces treatment, our team at Ellenbrook Orthodontics will issue you with two sets of retainers which are essential to ensure your treatment outcome lasts.

We will discuss this in more detail when we arrive at the point of treatment. However, it is important for you to know that if you want to keep your smile for life you will need to be compliant with retainers.