Oral Hygiene

Good Oral Hygiene Tips from Your Orthodontist in Fairlawn, OH

At Drs. Najem & Lehky Orthodontics, we provide quality orthodontic care using appliances such as Invisalign, Incognito lingual braces, and traditional metal braces. Our offices are located in Fairlawn and Cortland, but we’re proud to also serve surrounding areas including Warren and Medina. While braces and Invisalign can work wonders for straightening your teeth, they are only part of a thorough oral healthcare routine. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the true key to healthy teeth and gums, and it becomes even more important when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.

With the addition of wires, brackets, and bands, some areas of your mouth become more difficult to properly clean and there are more hiding places for food particles and plaque. Using the correct brushing and flossing techniques in your oral hygiene regimen is crucial to maintaining a healthy mouth. As your trusted orthodontist, Cortland and Fairlawn’s Drs. Najem and Lehky have some solid advice on how to maintain a clean, healthy smile, even during orthodontic treatment. Read below to learn some great oral hygiene tips.

Brushing Your Teeth

Good brushing habits begin with the right brush. Make sure when you pick out a toothbrush, you select a soft-bristled brush the right size for your mouth so that it can reach everywhere. When brushing your teeth, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush at roughly a 45-degree angle, making sure to gently brush every surface of each tooth. Remember to get between brackets and wires, because this is often where food can become stuck in your braces, and always remember to brush your gum line, which helps prevent gum disease. If you need advice on selecting the right toothbrush or brushing your teeth, talk to your dentist or orthodontist in Akron.

Flossing With Braces

Whether or not you have braces, you should be flossing at least once a day. The best way to do this is to start with a roughly 18” piece of floss, and lightly wrap it around your fingers and pull it so that it’s taught. Gently slide the floss between two teeth using a small back-and-forth motion, being careful not to snap it down onto your gums, which can cause bleeding and discomfort. After the floss is between the teeth, use it to scrape up and down the sides of your teeth, and around the base of each tooth. Make sure to use a clean section of floss between each tooth.

With braces, in order to get between the archwire and the teeth, use a floss threader:

  • Step 1: Pull the floss through the threader.
  • Step 2: Push the threader between the archwire and teeth, pulling the floss through.
  • Step 3: Slide the floss between your teeth and, using an up and down motion, clean both teeth all the way under the gums.
  • Step 4: Pull the floss out and repeat the same steps with a new section of floss for the next tooth.


After brushing and flossing, always rinse your mouth with water or an antiseptic dental rinse. Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your gums and cheeks while helping to prevent infection and decrease irritation. You can use Peroxyl up to four times a day following your brushing schedule. Use two teaspoons (half a capful) to rinse your mouth for one minute, then spit it out.

Use an Interdental Toothbrush

An interdental toothbrush, also known as a proxabrush, is an extremely helpful tool to help keep your mouth clean and healthy when you have braces. You can use the small brush to clean in the hard to reach areas, such as under the archwire or around the brackets. Just be careful when using the interdental toothbrush so to not damage your braces. If you’d like further advice on using interdental toothbrushes from a quality orthodontist, Fairlawn’s Drs. Najem & Lehky can help!

Caring For Your Retainer

Just like your teeth, retainers can accumulate food particles and plaque, so it's important that you brush your retainer every time you brush your teeth. To help prevent build-up and oral infections, soak your retainer in a glass of room temperature water with Polident, Efferdent, or other denture-cleaning tablets at least once a day. Do not use hot water, which can warp your retainer.

Foods to Avoid With Braces

When your braces are first applied and after each tightening, your teeth can be a little sore. During those short periods, we recommend eating mostly soft foods. However, throughout the rest of your orthodontic treatment, you can eat most of your favorite foods, so long as you follow a few guidelines:

  • Cut chewy foods: Cut chewy foods into smaller, bite-sized pieces
  • Eat sliced vegetables and fruit
  • Avoid sticky foods: Bubble gum, jelly beans, fruit snacks, and other sticky foods can damage braces
  • Avoid hard, crunchy foods: Hard candy, peanut brittle, and other crunchy foods can potentially damage or even pop off brackets or wires
  • Limit sugary foods: Sweets and soft drinks that can cause tooth decay under the appliances

Topical Fluoride

To help prevent tooth decay while wearing braces, use Phos-Flur, a sodium fluoride gel, following your daily brushing routine at bedtime. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on a toothbrush and apply it to your teeth for one minute and spit it out. You may not eat or drink for 30 minutes after you use Phos-Flur. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on your teeth for 30 minutes, so do not wash it away by eating or drinking.

Visit Your Akron, OH Area Orthodontist!

When you follow a good oral hygiene regimen during your treatment, you’ll be doing your part in keeping your smile healthy and strong. As your trusted orthodontist, Akron area Drs. Najem and Lehky want to help you get the best out of your orthodontic treatment. With two convenient office locations in Fairlawn and Cortland, we proudly serve the surrounding communities of Akron, Medina, and Copley, OH, offering quality orthodontic services for you and your family.

If you are a current patient with questions or a new patient interested in treatment, please contact our Fairlawn orthodontist office at (330) 864-3331 and Cortland orthodontist office at (330) 638-7004. Drs. Najem and Lehky would love to help you begin your journey to a healthier, more confident smile today! Contact us today to request an appointment and get started!