Patient Cooperation

Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Eating Habits and Orthodontics: Much work and effort has gone into the construction and placement of your orthodontic appliances. We encourage you to take care of your braces by keeping them clean and being very careful with the types of foods you put in your mouth. Breakage of your braces results in extra appointments (usually during school hours) for repairs and will lengthen the total time of your treatment. Please refer to the following recommendations on eating.

Hard Foods

Hard foods may cause damage by bending the wires, loosening the cement under the bands or breaking the brackets that are bonded to the teeth. Examples of those foods are listed below along with the ways that they may be eaten:

  • Carrots or celergy: grate, cook or cut into thin pieces.
  • Apples: Cut into bite size pieces
  • French bread, hard rolls bagels: avoid hard crusts
  • Corn on the cob, chicken, ribs: Cut corn off of the cob and meat off of the bone.

Please do not eat nuts, hard pretzels, hard pizza crust or chips. The top half of the popcorn bowl is fine to munch on, but stay away from the nuggets in the bottom. CHEWING ICE CUBES IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN!!!

Sticky Foods

Sticky foods can damage the appliances by bending wires and loosening the cement, actually pulling them off the teeth. Please do not eat Taffy, sugar daddies, peanut brittle, caramels, candy apples, licorice or any of the currently popular types of sticky candies such as Starbursts or Now and Laters.


Sugarless gum only, one stick at time. No regular gum or bubblegum of any kind, please.

Foods and Drinks High in Sugar Content

Foods and drinks high in sugar content should be limited. The germs (bacteria) that cause tooth decay, decalcification and gum disease need sugary food on your teeth in order to live. Sweets provide an excessive food source for these germs to produce their bad effects. Please brush your teeth immediately after each meal, since most of the damage occurs within the first half hour after eating. Be especially careful that the area between the bands and the gums is shiny and clean.


Plaque and food debris accumulate on the surfaces of the teeth, especially around brackets, bands, and wires, and can cause tooth decay and gum disease. It is important to clean your teeth and brackets to prevent this from happening. You may need to use more than one cleaning device. When you begin to floss and brush properly, gums that have not been kept clean may become sore and bleed. After a few days of proper care, the gums should stop bleeding and heal. Remember that extra time and care should be given to oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment.

You should ordinarily brush with a soft toothbrush and use moderate force. Place the toothbrush at an angle so that you feel the bristles under the gum line, and move the brush back and forth in short strokes. Work your way systematically from one side of the mouth to the other. Make certain you brush all surfaces of all teeth. Spend enough time to make sure you clean your teeth properly (at least 3-4 minutes). You should brush your teeth after every meal and before going to bed. Remember that a toothbrush cannot reach areas between the teeth, so for a proper cleaning you should also use dental floss.

An interdental toothbrush is designed to clean areas that a regular toothbrush cannot reach. Using an interdental toothbrush, clean around the bonded appliance and under the wires with slow, repetitive movements. Work systematically and make sure you clean all parts of the appliance.

Mechanical/Electronic Toothbrushes

Many patients achieve good oral hygiene with electric toothbrushes. Dr. Suri recommends them as hygiene results are so superior. Consider the Sonicare, Braun, or Rotodent brands.


Dental floss is a nylon thread that is used to remove dental plaque and food debris that accumulate between the teeth. Start flossing on one side of the mouth, and systematically work your way to the opposite side. To begin, cut off a piece of dental floss that is long enough to wrap around the middle finger of each hand. Guiding the floss with your thumbs and index fingers, insert it between the teeth by gently moving it back and forth. Don’t snap the floss, as this can hurt your gums. Scrape the surface of the tooth clean by moving the floss up and down. Then clean the adjacent tooth in the same way, and move on to the next interdental space.

Change the position of your hands to maintain a convenient grip on the floss. Do not forget to floss all your teeth, including those in the back. Also remember not to snap the floss when inserting it and to use gentle movements when you scrape the side of the tooth under the gum line. Flossing can injure your gums if done improperly.

Flossing is more difficult when you have orthodontic gear bonded to your teeth. You may find it necessary to insert the floss under the wire with a device called a floss threader and then slide the floss gently between your teeth. Be careful not to apply too strong a force on the wire. Superfloss, a special kind of thick, fluffy floss may be helpful for cleaning under the wires. Remember to use gentle movements when you scrape the side of the tooth under the gum line and not to snap the floss. Flossing can injure your gums if done improperly. Do not forget to floss all your teeth, including those in the back.

Cleaning a Removable Appliance

An appliance tends to accumulate plaque and food debris just the way teeth do. It should be cleaned daily with a toothbrush. You should also soak your appliance several times a week in a glass of lukewarm tap water with one or two denture-cleaning tablets. Whenever you’re not using the appliance, keep it in water. You may add a little mouthwash to keep it fresh. Do not use hot water, which could damage the appliance. Appliances are breakable. If they become damaged, they must be replaced. BE CAREFUL!