Whether you’ve had braces for a long time or are getting fitted with them soon enough, you might have found yourself in the place many have been before: You’re wondering what you’re going to do to maintain and care for this new, foreign device that’s taken over your mouth.

Sure, you’ve read about the foods you’ll want to avoid and all the famous people who have had braces before you, but there are a few more practical details you’ll want to harness as you dive into the world of wearing braces. Like, for instance, how to care for your braces in between check-ups.

Now, during a typical check-up, your orthodontist will replace the elastics on your braces (in whichever colour you choose), tighten your brackets, and perform a general review of how your teeth are progressing. Check-ups are just a part of the maintenance of completely overhauling your dental future.

Once your check-up is over, you’ll want to maintain a few good habits to make sure your braces are kept in working order. Here are some things to keep in mind when you get home.

Brush and floss more than you normally would.

Some orthodontists recommend you brush up to three times a day or after each time you eat. This will help prevent food build-up and keep your teeth extra fresh. You can also rely on handy tools like power brushes and trusty floss to do the job.

Use mouthwash.

Mouthwash is going to aide you in keeping up that feeling of having your teeth freshly clean, and will help target unwanted bacteria and germs that can get tucked away in or around your brackets.

Brush with your braces in mind.

Once your braces are in place, your orthodontist will likely give you instructions on how to best clean your teeth with the device. This may look slightly different from person to person, but it essentially involves holding your toothbrush at an angle and brushing under and around your braces.

Keep your tools handy.

Keep things like wax, floss, and a toothbrush on you while you’re on the go. You want to be armed and ready to clean your braces at all times!

Don’t skip your dentist appointments.

You may find yourself less inclined to go to the dentist when you’re getting orthodontic care, but it’s important to continue to book cleaning and maintenance appointments with your dentist along the way. They’ll be able to monitor your tooth health and other key elements of your dental journey.