Orthodontic Emergencies

Success comes from being prepared

Although they are far and few, orthodontic emergencies can occur. Use this guide as a quick reference to orthodontic emergencies and their treatments. For severe emergencies please contact Dr. Wiltshire for immediate attention.

The least severe emergency out of the bunch: food getting caught and clogged between your teeth. Sometimes food can get stuck causing discomfort and embarrassment. Thankfully, this can be fixed by using floss, interdental brush, or a water flosser to dislodge the food stuck in your teeth and braces.

Ligatures are rubber bands or small wires used to hold the wire to brackets. If you feel your rubber ligature (band) pop off, you can try putting it back gently with clean tweezers. If the rubber band is broken, take note of how many and contact our office.

If you notice a wire ligature is coming loose, use clean tweezers to remove the loose wire. For wires that are poking out and causing discomfort to the lip, try bending it back down with a Q-tip to reduce further discomfort.

Make sure to take note of all wires and bands that have popped, broken, or bent out of shape. Call our office to speak with Dr. Wiltshire to determine if an emergency appointment is needed.

It’s quite common to experience some degree of soreness and irritation during the first few weeks of wearing braces. To help alleviate these unpleasant side effects, here are a few things you can try:

Braces wax:

You can apply braces wax on wires, brackets, and any portion of the braces that irritate the inside of the mouth. Be sure to brush your teeth and clean the area where the wax is being applied.

Changing your sleep position:

Changing your sleep position can be a challenge, but it might be helpful in alleviating soreness on the inside of the cheek.

Salt rinses:

A warm salt rinse not only helps to clean and sterilize the mouth, but also reduces inflammation. Give it a shot!

Discomfort Reducers:

Consult with your doctor and/or parents before taking any over the counter prescriptions to reduce any discomfort or swelling.

If you often sleep on your side or rest your hands on your cheek or chin, you may be susceptible to mouth sores or irritated lips. Although they aren’t a concern for an orthodontic emergency, they can cause discomfort and irritation while eating, speaking, or sleeping.

Things that can assist:

Braces wax:

Place on your teeth and brackets in areas where you have noticed mouth sores. This is often the cheek and front teeth

Reduce touching your face:

Sleeping on your arm and resting your hand on your cheek are your arch nemesis for reducing mouth sores.

Topical Anesthetic:

Use tools like Ora-gel to provide brief relief of discomfort. Make sure to clear with your doctor and/or parents before use.

If you notice the end of a wire was not snipped back enough or it is slipped out of place a bit, you can use a Q-tip to push the wire flat against your tooth/teeth.

Sometimes the wire cannot be shifted back to a point where it’s comfortable. If you find yourself in that position, use braces wax to cover the tip of the wire to reduce any discomfort.

Make sure to contact Dr. Wiltshire and detail the protruding wire, where it’s located, and the severity of the discomfort. If you are unable to get to an appointment soon enough, as a last resort, use a pair of sharp clippers to snip the bulging wire. Ensure there is someone to assist you and use a folded paper towel around the area will snipping to avoid swallowing any wire fragments.

If at any point you notice your braces are loose, contact Dr. Wiltshire to determine if an emergency appointment is needed.

The brackets are the parts of the braces that are usually positioned at the center of each tooth with special adhesive. Without care the bracket can be knocked off by eating hard foods, playing or training to rough, or getting into an unprecedented accident.

If the bracket has shifted and is no longer in the center of your tooth/teeth, this could be a concern of the adhesive. Contact Dr. Wiltshire to determine next steps.

If the bracket is loose and is rotating on the wire, contact Dr. Wilshire immediately.

Only as a last resort should temporary fixes be used. If you cannot come into the office immediately, use clean tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it’s between two teeth.

In most cases, swallowing a bracket or piece of wire will not lead to medical concern. The probability of the bracket or piece of wire moving through your digestive system and coming out as waste is high.

However, if after you’ve swallowed a wire, bracket, or band and you have difficulty breathing; there could be concern that a piece of your braces or functional appliance is stuck in your lung. Seek immediate medical attention if this is the case.

Likewise, if after you’ve swallowed a wire, bracket, or band and you experience stomach pain; there could be concern that items are lodged in your digestive track. Seek immediate medical attention if this is the case.