Orthodontist in Turnersville, Moorestown, Cinnaminson & Philadelphia

Caring For Your Braces

Diagram of Braces

To help you accurately describe an emergency situation to the orthodontist, use the diagram below, which illustrates and names each part of a typical set of braces.

A — Ligature
The arch wire is held to each bracket with a ligature, which can be either a tiny elastic or a twisted wire.

B — Archwire
The archwire is tied to all of the brackets and creates force to move teeth into proper alignment.

C — Brackets
Brackets are connected to the bands, or directly bonded on the teeth, and hold the archwire in place.

D — Metal Band
The band is the cemented ring of metal which wraps around the tooth.

E — Elastic Hooks & Rubber Bands
Elastic hooks are used for the attachment of rubber bands, which help move teeth toward their final position.

Proper Care

You will be shown the proper care of your braces when your orthodontic treatment begins. Proper cleansing of your mouth is necessary every time you eat.

Teeth with braces are harder to clean, and trap food very easily. If food is left lodged on the brackets and wires, it can cause unsightly etching of the enamel on your teeth.

Your most important job is to keep your mouth clean. If food is allowed to collect, the symptoms of gum disease will show in your mouth.

The gums will swell and bleed and the pressure from the disease will slow down tooth movement.


You should brush your teeth 4-5 times per day, after every meal and before you go to bed. If you can’t brush right away after a meal, be sure to at least rinse your mouth well with water until you can brush.

  • Brush back and forth across..between the wires and gums on the upper and lower to loosen any food particles.
  • Next, brush correctly as if you had no brackets or appliances on.
  • Start on the outside of the uppers with the bristles at a 45 degree angle toward the gum and scrub with a circular motion two or three teeth at a time using ten strokes, then move on.
  • Next, do the same on the inner surface of the upper teeth.
  • Then, go to the lower teeth and repeat steps A & B.
  • Last, don’t forget to brush your tongue. Doing this will not only help to remove food particles from your mouth, it will make your breath fresher too!

Look in a mirror to see if you have missed any places. Your teeth, brackets and wires should be free of any food particles and plaque.

Note: If your gums bleed when brushing, do not avoid brushing, but rather continue stimulating the area with the bristles. Be sure to angle your toothbrush so that the area under your gum line is cleaned. After 3 or 4 days of proper brushing, the bleeding should stop and your gums should be healthy again.


Use a special floss threader to floss with your braces on. Be sure to floss at least once per day.

Fluoride Rinse or Gel

May be recommended for preventive measures.

A water-pik or electric toothbrush may be helpful; ask us what our recommendation would be best for your particular case.

Appliance Care

Clean the retainer by brushing with toothpaste. If you are wearing a lower fixed retainer be extra careful to brush the wire and the inside of the lower teeth. Always bring your retainer to each appointment. Avoid flipping the retainer with your tongue, this can cause damage to your teeth. Place the retainer in the plastic case when it is removed from your mouth. Never wrap the retainer in a paper napkin or tissue, someone may throw it away. Don’t put it in your pocket or you may break or lose it. Excessive heat will warp and ruin the retainer.


With these supplies on hand, you will be prepared to handle the most common emergencies with braces.

  • Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax
  • Dental floss
  • Sterile tweezers
  • Small, sharp clippers suitable for cutting wire (such as a fingernail clipper)
  • Q-tips
  • Salt
  • Interproximal brush
  • Non-prescription pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen or any over-the-counter medication typically used for a headache)
  • Oral topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel)
American Dental Association