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How To Floss With Braces

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The Ultimate Guite To Floss With Braces

When our Alaska, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek braces patients first kick-off treatment, we always teach them exactly how to take care of their braces and their smile. Of course, knowing what to do and actually learning new techniques are two different things. For most people, figuring out how to floss with braces takes the most getting used to. To help give you a better idea, we’ll be sharing everything you need to know about flossing with your hardware. 

While our Invisalign® patients should floss their teeth too, one of the benefits of Invisalign vs. braces is the aligners are removable, so you can floss your teeth with regular old dental floss just as you normally would. For that reason, this information is geared towards those with braces. 

In this post, we’ll cover:

Why is Flossing With Braces So Important?

Whether you have braces or not, flossing your teeth every day is crucial to maintaining your oral health. Flossing gets rid of plaque and food debris between the teeth and along the gumline that your toothbrush can’t reach. In fact, flossing is responsible for about 40% of plaque removal. Together, brushing and flossing lower your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. 

When you have braces on your teeth, there are more places for plaque, bacteria and food to hide. If you don’t practice good oral hygiene with braces, you are more likely to get cavities or experience gum inflammation. In extreme cases, you could have to have your braces removed to have your dental problems treated, which would extend your braces treatment time. Additionally, teeth move most effectively in a healthy oral environment. So, diligent brushing and flossing will help you get the best braces results and finish your treatment on schedule. 

How Often Do You Need to Floss Your Teeth With Braces? 

We recommend flossing at least once a day when you have braces. You can break out your dental floss or orthodontic flosser whenever you have time and there are no hard and fast rules about what time of day to floss. However, flossing at night is a good way to eliminate the plaque, bacteria and food particles that have accumulated throughout the day.

Should You Floss or Brush First?

Now, should you floss or brush first? A 2018 study published in the Journal of Periodontology on the efficacy of flossing before or after brushing found flossing before brushing removed significantly more plaque from in between the teeth and in the mouth overall. Subjects who flossed before brushing also had a higher concentration of fluoride from their toothpaste. The fluoride helps to further zap plaque and strengthen enamel. So, our advice is to floss first and then brush if possible. 

What is the Best Floss for Braces?

It is a good idea to use a waxed dental floss because your brackets and wires can shred unwaxed floss. Unwaxed floss is also more likely to get stuck in your braces. Other than that, the best floss for braces is really a personal preference. 

Some patients do like traditional dental floss, but using a floss threader will get the job done much quicker. An orthodontic flosser (like a Platypus flosser) is the fastest option of them all and will really cut down on the time you spend flossing with braces

While you can absolutely use a Waterpik, technically called a water flosser, when you have braces, and we would recommend adding it to your oral hygiene routine, a Waterpik does not replace regular flossing with dental floss or an orthodontic flosser. It’s something you’ll do in addition to your daily flossing, but most patients find it’s well worth it, because it helps get their teeth and gums feeling squeaky clean. 

How to Floss With Braces Using Traditional Dental Floss

As we said, flossing with traditional dental floss will take longer when you have braces than it will if you use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser. However, if you have your heart set on using regular floss to floss with braces, it’s possible.

Here’s how:

  • Break off a length of waxed dental floss about 18 inches long.
  • Using one hand, carefully thread one end of the floss between your arch wire and your teeth. With your other hand, grasp the end of the floss as it makes its way through. 
  • Wrap the ends of the dental floss around your index fingers. You can also wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving only a few inches to use between your teeth, and hold the floss tight with your thumbs and index fingers. 
  • Position the floss between any two teeth. 
  • Glide the floss up and down the side of one tooth, making a C-shape at the base of the tooth when you reach the gums to gently floss the area between your gums and tooth. Then, floss up and down the side of the other tooth, repeating the C-shape to get just under the gum line. 
  • Remove the floss and unthread it behind your archwire. 
  • Repeat the process on the next set of teeth using a clean section of floss until you’ve flossed all of your teeth, including behind your back molars. 

How to Floss With Braces Using a Floss Threader

A floss threader will make flossing with braces just a bit easier. It’s a piece of flexible plastic with a loop on the end that transforms regular floss into floss for braces or restorations like fixed bridgework. There are also versions like Super Floss that have a stiffened end.

As for how to use a floss threader to floss with braces, follow these steps:

  • Break off a piece of waxed dental floss about 18 inches long. 
  • Direct one end of your floss through the eye of the floss threader and pull about five inches of the floss through the loop. 
  • Carefully direct the pointed end of your floss threader under your archwire. If you’re using Super Floss, guide the stiffened end of the floss under your wire. Pull the floss through so you can grip it with both hands. 
  • Wrap the floss around your index fingers, leaving a few inches to floss between your teeth with. 
  • Position the floss between any two teeth. 
  • Slide the floss up and down the side of one tooth, making a C-shape at the base of the tooth when you reach the gums to gently floss the area between your gums and tooth. Then, floss up and down the side of the other tooth, getting just under the gumline again. 
  • Gently pull the floss out from behind your archwire. 
  • Use your floss threader again to floss in between your next set of teeth. Repeat the process until you’ve flossed all of your teeth, including around your back molars. 

How to Floss Using an Orthodontic Flosser

An orthodontic flosser is the easiest, quickest way to floss with braces. However, it is more expensive than regular dental floss. 

Here’s how to floss with an orthodontic flosser if you go that route:

  • Slide the rounded end of your orthodontic flosser under your archwire so the floss is positioned between two teeth. 
  • Glide the floss up and down the side of one tooth, making sure to floss slightly under the gumline. Do the same on the other tooth. 
  • Pull the orthodontic flosser out gently and place it in between the next set of teeth. Repeat the process until you’ve flossed all of your teeth, including behind the back molars. 

How to Use a Waterpik With Braces

You can use a Waterpik for braces in addition to your once-daily flossing in order to dislodge food particles and get your teeth and gums extra clean. A lot of water flosser brands actually have orthodontic tips that are designed to be used with braces. 

Here’s how to use a Waterpik for braces:

  • Fill the reservoir of your water flosser with lukewarm water. Then, insert the flosser tip.
  • Use the lowest pressure setting to start. Place the tip in your mouth while you lean over the sink. 
  • Turn your Waterpik on and close your lips to prevent splashing. Allow the water to run out of your mouth straight into the sink. 
  • Begin with your back teeth. Aim your flosser tip at your gumline and gently brush along the gumline, in between the teeth and around your braces brackets. 
  • Repeat the process on the rest of your teeth until you’ve done your whole mouth. 

Don’t Skip Your Dental Check-Ups!

In addition to brushing and flossing with braces, you’ll also want to be sure you continue to see your general dentist during your orthodontic treatment for regular check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist will evaluate the health of your teeth and gums, let you know if your brushing and flossing technique could use some improvement, and help you prevent cavities and gum disease. Additionally, during a professional cleaning, the hygienist will use special tools to banish hardened plaque (tartar) that you can’t eliminate on your own with a regular toothbrush and dental floss, ensuring the best possible oral health. 

If you still have questions about how to floss with braces, ask us! We’ll be more than happy to demonstrate for you, which can be extremely helpful, especially if you just got your braces pvut on. Not in treatment yet? If you’re interested in learning more about your options for braces and Invisalign in Bothell, Monroe or Mill Creek, Washington or Juneau, Alaska, schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics today!

The Process and Benefits of 3D Printed Dental Retainers

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While 3D printing in orthodontics really began in earnest over two decades ago with the advent of Invisalign®, it has become more commonplace in recent years. In fact, at Richard Chan Orthodontics, we have a 3D printer in our office that we use to customize 3D printed retainers for our patients using advanced, thermoplastic material. 

While there are several types of orthodontic retainers, including permanent retainers that are bonded to the teeth and Hawley retainers that consist of acrylic and wire, 3D-printed, clear retainers are the most popular option among our Monroe, Mill Creek, Bothell and Everett, WA Invisalign and braces patients. In this post, we’ll be covering how the process of getting a 3D-printed retainer works and what the benefits are. 

The Conventional Dental Retainer Process

The conventional way of creating retainers leaves a lot to be desired. The orthodontist fills a tray with a putty-like substance and you have to bite down on it and wait for the impression materials to set, which can sometimes take several minutes. They then use your dental impressions to create a custom retainer. A lot of patients gag during the process of getting traditional dental impressions and it’s not very comfortable. Thankfully, we use 3D technology at our practice so there are no goopy, messy molds! 

New and Improved: The Process for 3D-Printed Retainers

3d-printer-in-the-process-of-printing-retainersHow is getting a 3D-printed retainer different? Well, after your braces or Invisalign treatment is complete, we take digital impressions using our iTero® scanner. The 3D teeth scanning process with iTero is quick, comfortable and painless. You can breathe normally throughout it, it only takes a few minutes and there is no gagging. A Richard Chan Orthodontics team member simply waves the small, handheld wand across your teeth and gums and it snaps images in motion. 

The iTero scans are uploaded to a computer and converted into a super precise, 3D CAD model of your mouth, which is sent to our 3D printer. Dr. Chan and his team will then print and fabricate your custom, clear, plastic retainer. 

You’ll wear your clear retainer, which is technically called an Essix retainer and sometimes referred to as an Invisalign retainer by patients, according to Dr. Chan’s instructions. It will hold your teeth in their new places so that they don’t shift after your braces or Invisalign treatment. 

The Benefits of 3D-Printed Retainers

3D printing dental retainers has made helping patients maintain their smiles much more streamlined. Here are some of the benefits:


When dental impressions are sent to a third-party lab so they can create a custom retainer, it can take three weeks or so for you to receive the retainer. Then, if you lose your retainer, getting a replacement will also take time. With a 3D-printed retainer, we’re able to design, fabricate and print the retainer right in our office, allowing us to get you your retainer sooner. If you need a replacement, that will be quick and easy as well, ensuring your teeth don’t shift while you wait for your appliance. 


The removable, clear retainers are similar to Invisalign aligners. They’re made from smooth plastic, are designed especially for your mouth and they slip over your teeth. There’s no irritation and patients find them to be extremely comfortable. Yet, it’s not just the clear, plastic retainers themselves that are comfortable; the process is comfortable and clean too. As we said, we use our iTero scanner to take quick digital impressions and you don’t have to bite into a goopy mold and hold it in your mouth while trying not to gag. 


The digital impressions from the iTero scanner are high-definition and precise. Digital scanning creates a real-time, virtual rendering of your mouth. When we use the scans for 3D printing dental retainers or other appliances, you get a truly custom fit for the best possible results and comfort. 


It’s quick and easy to take digital impressions and you’ll receive your 3D-printed retainer in less time. Additionally, we keep your digital dental model. So, if you lose your retainer and need a replacement, you won’t have to come in for new scans. We can make you a new one immediately from your previous scan. We’ll tell you when it’s ready and you can either come to the office to pick it up or we can mail it to you. 


3D-printed retainers are more affordable than other options. This is because creating them takes significantly less time and when they’re printed in the office, there is no outside lab involved. We pass these savings on to our patients. 


While eventually you’ll only wear your retainer at night, if you do have to wear it full-time at first, a clear retainer is less noticeable than a Hawley retainer, which has a wire that wraps around your teeth. The plastic is clear and smooth and the retainer fits like an Invisalign aligner. Most people won’t even notice you’re wearing it. 

Better Oral Health

With removable retainers, like a clear retainer or Hawley retainer, you can brush and floss as you normally do. This allows you to maintain excellent oral hygiene, which, of course, is key if you just invested in braces or Invisalign treatment to get your dream smile. While most of our Alaska and Washington orthodontic patients are amazing at keeping their permanent retainers clean, the wire does create more areas for food and plaque to hide, which can increase your risk of tooth decay

To learn more about our high-tech options for creating confident, beautiful smiles, including 3D-printed retainers, schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics in Mill Creek, Monroe or Bothell, WA or Juneau, AK. 


Can You Drink Soda With Braces or Invisalign?

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Can you drink coffee with clear braces? Can you drink with Invisalign aligners in your mouth? Why is soda bad for braces? These are some of the questions we get from our Everett, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek Invisalign and braces patients. While most people have a pretty good idea of the ins and outs of eating with orthodontic appliances, not everyone is as well versed when it comes to beverages. To help give you a better idea of what you should know about drinking with Invisalign or braces, we’re covering some of the most common beverage-related questions. 

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Do You Know These Common Braces Myths?

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When it comes to dental braces, there are myths abound. Some of the common braces myths are rooted in people’s experience with the braces of decades past (today’s braces are a big upgrade and a lot of the challenges no longer exist) and others, well, we’re not exactly sure where they come from. To help dispel any misconceptions, we’re countering some popular braces myths with braces facts!

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Common Teeth Problems an Orthodontist Can Fix

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Can I get braces for an anterior crossbite? Can Invisalign fix an overbite? We get a lot of questions like these from our Alaska, Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek and Everett, WA Invisalign and braces patients before they start treatment. As a certified specialist in orthodontics, Dr. Richard Chan specializes in diagnosing, preventing and treating malocclusions, or problems with the size, positioning and alignment of the teeth and jaws. Of course, orthodontic treatment is focused on straightening the teeth and creating a beautiful smile for every patient, but we also want to design the most functional bite (how the upper and lower teeth fit together). While each patient is unique and you could even have a combination of problems, these are the most common bite issues we address. 

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Eat Local: Top Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek Restaurants With Braces-Friendly Food

By | Community, Orthodontics | No Comments

Now, more than ever, it’s so important to support local businesses since many were hard hit by the coronavirus shutdown, particularly restaurants. A delicious and simple way to help if it’s within your means is to order a meal for takeout or delivery. To give you some ideas of where to eat, we’re sharing some of our favorite local restaurants. Of course, since we want our Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek and Everett braces patients to be able to enjoy some delicious food too, we’re highlighting establishments with braces-friendly food. We can’t mention every restaurant, so we would encourage you to patronize your personal favorites as well.

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What are the Different Types of Retainers After Braces or Invisalign?

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When you get your braces removed or take out your final Invisalign tray, it’s a big moment! As our Alaska, Monroe, Mill Creek, Bothell and Everett, WA Invisalign and braces patients will tell you, it’s exciting to see your final results. While it might seem like your orthodontic treatment is complete, there’s actually one more step and that’s wearing a retainer (or retainers). We promise, the outcome will be totally worth it. To help give you a better idea of what to expect, we’ll be covering why wearing a retainer is important and what the different types of retainers are.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Invisalign

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Invisalign is a convenient, comfortable way to get your dream smile. Yet, there are still things you’ll have to do (and avoid) to get the best possible results. As an Alaska, Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek and Everett orthodontist, I’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about Invisalign when you start treatment. By following the instructions and keeping your aligners and smile in tip-top shape, you’ll breeze through the process using best way to clean dental retainers. Here are some of the key dos and don’ts of wearing Invisalign and best way to clean dental retainers. Read More


We’re Reopening!

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Dear patients and friends of Richard Chan Orthodontics,

We cannot believe it has been two months since we have seen you at our office. We’ve missed seeing your smiles, but we’re excited to welcome you back to our Washington offices on May 18th, 2020! We are still waiting word in Alaska that we are allowed to perform non-urgent procedures and will let you know when this can happen in Juneau. When you visit us in the office, you will notice that things might look a bit different. All the protocols we have in place are to keep our team and patients safe.
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