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Maintaining good oral health while wearing braces or aligners might feel challenging, but with a little extra care, it’s entirely manageable. At Sweet Water Dentistry, under the expert guidance of Dr. Phillip N. Greer, we offer you a series of tips and services to ensure your smile stays bright and healthy. By incorporating diligent brushing, using specialized tools like interdental brushes and floss threaders, and keeping up with regular dental checkups, you can prevent common issues such as plaque buildup and gum disease. We’re dedicated to supporting you on your journey to a beautiful and healthy smile, so feel free to stop by or give us a call at 5915 Sweetwater Cir, Fairhope, AL, or visit us online at sweetwatersmile.com. Dr. Greer and the team are always here to welcome you with open arms and personalized care.
Have you ever wondered how you can maintain good oral health while wearing braces or aligners? Well, you’re in the right place! Proper dental hygiene is essential, especially when you have these orthodontic appliances. Whether you’re sporting sparkling metal braces or have gone more discreet with clear aligners, keeping your teeth and gums healthy can be a bit more challenging, but it’s definitely doable.

In this friendly, detailed guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to keep your oral health in top shape while undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you need more personalized advice or are looking for a trusted dental practice, Sweet Water Dentistry in Fairhope, Alabama, is here to help. But for now, let’s dive in and start improving your oral health together!

How Can I Maintain Good Oral Health With Braces Or Aligners?

Find your new How Can I Maintain Good Oral Health With Braces Or Aligners? on this page.

Why Oral Health is Important with Orthodontic Appliances

Maintaining good oral health with braces or aligners is crucial for multiple reasons. Firstly, the appliances themselves create additional nooks and crannies in your mouth where food particles and bacteria can accumulate. Neglecting these areas can lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease. Secondly, a clean and healthy mouth ensures that your orthodontic treatment progresses as planned without additional complications. Lastly, good oral hygiene promotes fresh breath and a brighter smile, giving you more confidence during and after your treatment!

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Braces vs. Aligners: What’s the Difference?

Before diving into the specifics of maintaining good oral health, it’s essential to understand the differences between braces and aligners. Each type of orthodontic treatment has its own unique set of challenges and requires a tailored approach to care.


Braces consist of metal brackets glued to your teeth and held together by wires and rubber bands. They’re effective for treating complicated dental issues and are usually worn for one to three years, depending on the case.


Aligners, such as Invisalign, are clear, removable trays that gradually shift your teeth into the desired position. These are typically worn for several months to over a year, depending on the complexity of the dental issue.

Aspect Braces Aligners
Visibility Highly visible Virtually invisible
Removability Fixed, cannot be removed Removable for eating & cleaning
Comfort Can cause irritation Generally more comfortable
Cleaning Requires diligent cleaning Easier to clean
Eating Some food restrictions Fewer food restrictions

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Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

Whether you’re wearing braces or aligners, a disciplined daily oral hygiene routine is essential. Let’s break it down into steps that are easy to follow.


Braces: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush to clean around the brackets and wires. Angle the brush head at about 45 degrees to the gums and use back-and-forth motions. Don’t forget to brush the inner surfaces of your teeth and your tongue.

Aligners: Remove your aligners before brushing. Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, paying special attention to the areas where the aligners come into direct contact with your teeth. Use a non-abrasive toothpaste to avoid damaging the aligner trays.


Braces: Using regular floss can be tricky with braces. Consider using a floss threader or orthodontic flosser designed to get under the wires. Water flossers can also be highly effective and user-friendly.

Aligners: Remove your aligners before flossing. Use a floss type that you’re comfortable with, whether it’s traditional floss, dental picks, or a water flosser. The goal is to remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth and under the gumline.


Braces: Use an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Swish it around for at least 30 seconds after brushing and flossing.

Aligners: Rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash after brushing and flossing. Alcohol can dry out your mouth and irritate your gums.

Cleaning Your Orthodontic Appliances

Your braces or aligners need regular cleaning to ensure they remain effective and hygienic. Here’s how to keep them in tip-top shape:

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How to Clean Braces

  1. Brush Brackets and Wires: Use an interdental brush or a proxy brush to clean between the wires and around each bracket.
  2. Fluoride Rinse: A fluoride mouthwash can help prevent cavities and strengthen your teeth. Use this once daily, preferably before bedtime.
  3. Orthodontic Wax: To minimize irritation from the brackets and wires, apply orthodontic wax to the trouble spots.

How to Clean Aligners

  1. Rinse Regularly: Give your aligners a quick rinse every time you remove them to prevent saliva and plaque buildup.
  2. Brush Gently: Use a soft toothbrush and clear, unscented antibacterial soap to brush your aligners. Avoid using toothpaste as it can be abrasive and cause scratches.
  3. Soak Daily: Use aligner cleaning solutions or a mixture of warm water and mild soap to soak your aligners for about 15-20 minutes each day.
  4. Avoid Staining Foods and Drinks: Be cautious with foods and beverages like coffee, tea, red wine, and berries that can stain your aligners and teeth.

How Can I Maintain Good Oral Health With Braces Or Aligners?

Dietary Considerations

What you eat can significantly impact your oral health, especially when wearing braces or aligners.

Foods to Avoid with Braces

  1. Hard Foods: Nuts, hard candies, and ice can break brackets and wires.
  2. Sticky Foods: Chewy candies and gum can get stuck in your braces.
  3. Sugary Foods and Drinks: Limit consumption of sweets and sodas to reduce the risk of cavities.
  4. Crunchy Foods: Carrots, apples, and crusty bread can damage your braces. Instead, cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Foods to Avoid with Aligners

  1. Hot Drinks: Very hot beverages can warp the plastic of your aligners.
  2. Sugary and Acidic Foods: These contribute to plaque buildup, which can be problematic under the aligners.
  3. Dark-Colored Foods: Foods and drinks that stain can discolor your aligners and teeth.

Emergency Situations

Even with careful attention, emergencies can happen. Knowing how to manage them can save you a lot of stress.

Common Issues with Braces

  1. Broken Brackets: If a bracket breaks, save it and contact your orthodontist immediately.
  2. Loose Wires: Use orthodontic wax to cover sharp edges and prevent irritation until you can see your orthodontist.
  3. Lost Rubber Bands: Keep spares handy and replace them as soon as possible.

Common Issues with Aligners

  1. Lost Aligners: If you lose an aligner, wear the previous aligner or the next one in the series and contact your orthodontist right away.
  2. Cracked Aligners: Minor cracks may not be problematic, but if an aligner is severely damaged, it should be replaced as soon as possible.
  3. Discomfort: Mild discomfort is normal, especially when changing to a new set of aligners. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage the discomfort.
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Routine Dental Checkups

Regular dental visits are essential when you have braces or aligners. Your dentist will perform cleanings, monitor your oral health, and ensure your treatment is progressing as planned.


You should visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup, or more frequently if recommended. Your orthodontist will also schedule regular appointments to adjust your braces and monitor your progress.


Since aligners are removable, it might be tempting to skip routine dental visits, but they’re just as important. Your dentist will ensure that both your aligners and your teeth are in good condition, minimizing the risk of complications.

Additional Tips for Maintaining Oral Health

Here are some extra tips to help keep your mouth in great shape while wearing braces or aligners:

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water helps wash away food particles and keeps your mouth moist, reducing the risk of decay and bad breath.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum (if allowed)

Chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva production, which helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles. However, consult with your orthodontist before chewing gum with braces.

Use A Straw

When drinking sugary or acidic beverages, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is key in maintaining good oral health. Stick to your hygiene routine and follow the advice of your dental professionals.

The Role of Sweet Water Dentistry

At Sweet Water Dentistry in Fairhope, AL, we pride ourselves on offering comprehensive orthodontic care and general dental services. Our team, led by Dr. Phillip N. Greer, D.D.S., is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal oral health in a relaxing, welcoming environment. We accept most insurances and are always ready to welcome new patients into our dental family.

Our Mission

Our mission is to serve the community wholeheartedly, providing excellent dental care in a setting that promotes comfort and peace. We adhere to the values of love, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness, striving to build long-lasting, trusting relationships with every patient.

Our Services

Whether you’re looking for routine checkups, orthodontic treatment, or specialized dental care, Sweet Water Dentistry offers a wide range of services tailored to meet the needs of both children and adults.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit us at:

Sweet Water Dentistry
5915 Sweetwater Cir
Fairhope, AL 36532
Sweet Water Dentistry Website
(251) 210-2773


Maintaining good oral health with braces or aligners requires diligence and a little extra attention to detail, but it’s entirely achievable. By following the tips and routines outlined in this guide, you can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond.

If you need personalized advice or have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sweet Water Dentistry. We’re here to help you every step of the way, ensuring your smile remains bright and healthy. Welcome to our dental family!

Stay committed, stay informed, and keep smiling!

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