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How to floss with braces

How to floss with braces

April 28, 2020

How to Floss with Braces

At Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves a healthy smile, and our mission is to help our patients achieve one through comprehensive orthodontic treatment. But in addition to the braces, Invisalign, and other orthodontic treatments we provide at our Vernon Hills and Chicago offices, the way you care for your teeth at home is vital to the outcome of your treatment. Flossing is a critical part of your oral hygiene regimen, but during treatment with braces, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your flossing routine. That’s why we’re here to help.

Flossing with Braces

There are many changes you’ll need to get used to during treatment with braces, but one of the biggest differences is flossing. No longer can you simply glide the floss down between each tooth without extra effort: now there’s a pesky metal archwire in the way! Don’t worry, though, you can get past it – it’ll just take some extra effort.

To properly floss with braces, you’ll need a device called a floss threader. This essentially a thin plastic loop that’s elongated and straight at one end, almost like a needle. To use it, pull out a length of floss and run it through the ‘eye’ of the needle, then pass the pointed end underneath your archwire and pull it through so that your floss is threaded underneath the archwire. From here, you can floss these teeth normally – and all you have to do is repeat the process for the rest of your teeth.

Contact Your Chicago, IL Orthodontist

Flossing with braces takes longer than normal, but it’s a critical step towards preventing dental decay and is well worth the effort. And if you’re ready to pursue braces or any other form of orthodontic treatment for yourself, we’re here to help you do it! Contact us today to learn more about our office and treatments or to schedule a consultation with us. We can’t wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping you achieve your dream smile!

Retainers 101

January 21, 2019

It’s the New Year, which means plenty of New Year’s resolutions. This 2019 make one of your resolutions to keep your teeth straight by properly using your retainer!
Orthodontists typically recommend wearing a retainer after completing orthodontic treatment. But what exactly is a retainer, why do you need to wear it, and how do you care for it?

What is a Retainer?

Retainers are custom-made orthodontic devices made to help prevent your teeth from moving out of their new straight positions after orthodontic treatment. Retainers are made of plastic and metal and designed to fit the top of the teeth and mouth. They are meant to be used for an extended period of time and are often assigned as part of your dental care routine for as long as you wore your braces. Some patients may only need to wear retainers during sleep, others may be asked to wear them full-time. Your Chicago and Vernon Hills orthodontist will have the best recommendations on when to wear your retainers and for how long. Not following recommendations from your orthodontist could lead to your teeth shifting back to the positions they were in before you wore braces, so it is important to follow your specific dental care instructions.

Why Else Would You Need to Wear a Retainer?

There are several additional reasons why you may need to wear a retainer past the fact that the appliances keep teeth straight after wearing braces. Those reasons could include:

  • Curbing speech defects  – it can be difficult to pronounce certain sounds if your teeth are not where they are supposed to be, as you may not be able to place your tongue behind your teeth in the right way. Retainers can help alleviate this issue.
  • Treating headaches/Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) – if you have frequent headaches and jaw pain, then your orthodontist may prescribe a retainer as part of your dental care, as TMD is a condition where your top and bottom teeth do not align properly. Also, having a retainer can prevent your teeth from grinding in your sleep which is often the cause of headaches that last until the next day
  • Close a space between teeth/move a single tooth – in some cases, retainers are a piece of dental care prescribed by your orthodontist instead of braces to adjust only one or a few teeth instead of the entire mouth, like fixing a gap between two teeth.
  • Other medical problems – while retainers are generally dental appliances that orthodontists utilize to help your teeth stay straight, they may be used to treat a medical problem like tongue thrust – where your tongue sneaks through your teeth when you talk.

How to Take Care of Your Retainers

Because retainers are generally worn daily per your orthodontist’s instructions, they should also be cleaned daily. Bacteria, plaque, and leftover food particles can easily stick to your retainers, so they should be soaked in mouthwash or a denture-cleaning agent to kill those germs and freshen the appliances up. Whenever you are not wearing your retainers, you may want to consider letting them soak as well because retainers are made of plastic and plastic can crack if it gets too dry; it should always stay moist. The plastic can also warp, so be sure not to use warm water or leave retainers near a heat source.
Furthermore, retainers can be expensive, so taking good care of these appliances as part of your dental care routine also means not losing them. If you lose a retainer please let us know at our Chicago or Vernon Hills office and we will create a replacement before your next visit. And if have any questions or concerns about your retainer, do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics Can Help Keep Your Smile Straight!

Whether you need braces or a retainer, already have them, or just have questions about your appliances in general, your orthodontists and the whole team at Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics are ready to help keep your smile straight by addressing all of your orthodontic needs! Schedule an appointment online today with our Chicago or Vernon Hills office!

Oral hygiene in the summer for kids

August 2, 2018

They say one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and this applies to oral hygiene as well. As warmer temperatures arrive, we know kids and families are enjoying longer days, travel plans, less routine, and plenty of ice cream! While we encourage all of these indulgences, let’s discuss ways to maintain a good oral hygiene routine so that guilty pleasures don’t lead to cavities, which can affect your orthodontic treatment.

Set a Bedtime

Possibly the best part of summer, staying up extra late and sleeping in a little longer can do the most damage on proper dental hygiene routines. During the school year, kids establish habits of brushing and flossing before bedtime and upon waking, but when those routines disappear, so will those good habits. This is why your orthodontic and oral care experts at Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics encourage parents to set a flexible bedtime during the summer so kids continue to care for their teeth. Beyond supporting healthy and strong teeth, a flexible routine in the summer will lead to a smoother transition when school schedules come back into full swing!

Camps, Classes, & Sports

Another way to create a sense of routine in the summer can come from signing your child up for camps that encourage them to explore new interests and hobbies. These activities do not need to take up an entire day or full week, but some structure will provide a sense of normalcy that kids rely upon and thrive on. Of course, setting a healthy balance between activities and free time is important to ensuring kids still enjoy their summer break.


Discussing oral hygiene habits during the summer may seem out of the blue, but years of experience teach us that summer break can lead to the breakage of healthy oral hygiene habits. Talking about the subject can help keep it from escaping your kids’ minds. So, on your next camping trip or family getaway, take advantage of the opportunity to teach your child about their lifelong commitment to dental health by packing toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, and committing to routines while on the go. This will protect the health of your child’s teeth and therefore also help their smile results post orthodontic treatment.

Contact Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics Today!

Keeping a good oral hygiene routine is vital. This is true throughout your life, and through the process becomes more difficult during orthodontic treatment, it still remains important. So this summer, don’t let your kids forget about maintaining the health of the teeth beneath their braces. Help them keep up with great oral hygiene and contact our Chicago or Vernon Hills office for tips and tricks to making oral hygiene with orthodontic treatment easier!

Braces & your oral hygiene routine

June 4, 2018

Braces can make maintaining thorough oral hygiene difficult. However, there are some best practices and special tools you can use to make your oral hygiene routine easy and efficient!

Brushing Basics

Let’s start with the basic brushing tools. Our orthodontists recommend choosing either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (a toothbrush that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges). Used carefully, an electric toothbrush can also work. But be sure that the electric brush you select is set to a moderate power level whenever you use it, and be mindful of the vibrations. You don’t want the back of your brush to hit your brackets or braces.

Best Practices

Our team of skilled orthodontists advises that you brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times a day (preferably after meals) for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all teeth surfaces: outside, inside, and the chewing surfaces as well. And be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth, as well as between brackets and gums — that’s where food particles can easily become trapped, causing decay.


Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of toothbrush bristles flat against teeth then use small circular motions to gently polish them clean. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions. Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, utilizing a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.

Special Oral Hygiene Tools

There are several tools that can make your oral hygiene routine simpler. A couple popular options include the interdental toothbrush (or proxabrush) and the Waterpik®. An interdental toothbrush has a small tuft of bristles that stick up like a pipe cleaner. It can be used to clean tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets. Meanwhile the Waterpik® shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in nooks and crannies.

Healthy Smiles to Last A Lifetime

Every day that you keep your teeth and gums healthy is an investment in your future. Great oral hygiene enables you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment, setting you on a path to a brighter smile. For more information about brushing and flossing, inquiries regarding braces, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Jacobson & Tsou Orthodontics at our Chicago or Vernon Hills location today! We’d love to hear from you!


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