Braces 101

Your new braces


You’ve taken the first step in an amazing and life changing experience, so now what? Here are some helpful tips.

Brushing With Braces

You will notice it is harder to keep your teeth clean with orthodontic appliances. Food can easily become caught in the brackets and between your teeth. Proper brushing and flossing is vital to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, and is essential in preventing the development of stains, cavities, or gum disease.

Dr. Cusack recommends brushing when you wake up in the morning, before bed, and after every meal. In addition, use a fluoride and/or anti-bacterial mouth rinse after brushing to keep teeth strong and healthy.

Additional hygiene tools, such as electric toothbrushes and Waterpiks, may help out if you need more than a conventional tooth brush and floss.


  • To brush your teeth, start by brushing the outer surfaces of the teeth and braces with a gentle, circular motion.

  • Tilt your toothbrush 45 degrees to clean the top and bottom of the braces.

  • Concentrate on the areas of your teeth between the gums and the braces, as this area is most commonly missed when brushing.

  • Then, brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth as well as the inside surfaces of your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as odor-causing bacteria can get trapped here.

  • Do not brush with a hard-bristled toothbrush or use harsh, saw-like motions. This may cause damage to your teeth and gums by wearing away the surface structure of the teeth.

  • To clean between the brackets, use an interproximal or proxy brush, which is a small, pine-tree shaped brush that can be adjusted to different angles.

  • Dr. Cusack will provide a proxy brush in the “orthodontics survival kit” you will receive, but they can also be found at most drug stores. Insert it under the arch wire, and gently work it in an up and down motion.

  • By doing this, you will be cleaning the surfaces of your teeth to the left and right of the braces. Do this between all of your brackets and bands.

10 rules

of hygiene during orthodontic treatment to ALWAYS remember:


To clean between your teeth, you will need to floss. Several different flossing tools have been developed to assist orthodontic patients with this, as it can be difficult to stretch the floss underneath the orthodontic wire.


Unlike regular dental emergencies such as a tooth ache or a chipped/broken tooth, orthodontics has very few emergencies that can’t be handled with help from a parent, spouse or friend. As long as you are not in great pain or bleeding you should be able to attend to your own “emergency” in the comfort of your own home.

A loose bracket that is still affixed to the wire can be secured with wax until it can either be replaced or removed from the wire at your next appointment. A long wire that is ‘pokey’ can be bent away from your gum tissues with an eraser from a pencil or by using a spoon. Gently use the eraser to push the wire towards the teeth and place some wax over the sharp point. This is the only time you are allowed to put a pencil near your braces!

A wire that cannot be moved can be clipped with a sharp pair of nail clippers; just make sure you clean the clippers with rubbing alcohol and rinse them under water before use. Clip the wire behind the next bracket that is still securely fastened to your teeth. A lost elastic or tie wire can wait until the office reopens or your next appointment where the broken wire will be replaced.

In the case of any change to your orthodontic appliances we ask that you call the office when we re-open and allow us to make the decision regarding a return emergency visit.

If you have bleeding, swelling or are experiencing extreme discomfort please call our office as soon as possible. Dr. Cusack’s cell phone number is on our answering machine if the office is closed.