Orthodontic Emergencies

An emergency that would need immediate attention is one causing pain. In most situations, a broken appliance does not need immediate attention and temporary solutions can be handled at home with instructions over the phone or an appointment can be made.

The following are typical emergencies and how to solve them:

Loose or Poking Archwires

The brackets and wires may feel sharp when you first get your braces when your mouth is not used to feeling them. Dry the area causing irritation (e.g. a bracket) and apply wax to cushion the area.

If a wire causes irritation, push the wire away from the area using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-tip. If the wire cannot be tucked away, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax or a cotton ball until you can see us for an adjustment.

If the main wire has come out of the tube on the back tooth, attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers. If the wire is not sticking you, place a piece of wax over the area. As a last resort, if you cannot come into our office, the wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or fingernail clipper close to the back of the last brace.

Loose Brackets or Bands

If a bracket becomes loose, it usually remains connected to the main wire. Tweezers can be used to reposition the brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. Call our office and inform us of the problem. If a piece of your braces break, save the piece and call our office to schedule a repair visit.

Lost Separators

In case a rubber spacer or separator falls out, try to place the separator back with floss. If you are unable to do so, call our office so that we can arrange to replace it for you. If it happens a day before your appointment to put on braces or bands, you do not need to do anything.

If You Swallow Something

Remain calm if you swallow a piece of your appliance. It will usually go into the stomach and pass out of the body in the usual way. However, if difficulty breathing is experienced, you should seek immediate medical attention. X-rays will be taken to determine the location of the swallowed piece.

Broken Retainer

If a retainer cracks or breaks, remove the retainer from your mouth and bring all the pieces to our office for professional repair.

Sore Teeth or Sore Gums

Take ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if your teeth are sore after your appointment. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE ANY HISTORY OF ALLERGIC REACTIONS. If food becomes stuck between your teeth, use dental floss or a proxy brush to dislodge the food. If you cut your gums, tongue or the inside of your cheek, apply finger pressure to the bleeding site for several minutes. Rinsing your mouth with a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt can also be soothing. If the bleeding doesn't stop, call your family dentist or our office.

Minor irritations and canker sores will heal much more quickly if you apply Zylactin or Orabase according to the manufacturer't directions. You can purchase it over the counter at most pharmacies and convenient stores.