Emergency Information

In the beginning of treatment, you may need a little time to get used to wearing braces. It is common to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are fitted on, or some minor aches as teeth begin moving to move. Nevertheless it is comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare.

However, if you think you may have an emergency, the first step is to establish the severity of the problem: Is it an urgent matter that requires immediate attention, or a minor problem that you can take care of yourself, temporarily, until you can come in to our clinic?

A Major Emergency

There are only a few true orthodontic (or dental) emergencies. They include:

Trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth

Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face

Severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas

In any of these situations, you should seek help immediately — go to an emergency room, if that’s your best option. In general, however, the place to start is with your regular dentist, who is trained to handle a range of dental problems, and can most likely offer you the necessary diagnostic tools, anesthetics and treatments you need. If, for example, you have a fractured tooth, your dentist will treat the immediate problem and arrange for the tooth’s restoration; afterwards your orthodontic treatment plan can be adjusted as needed. Likewise, severe pain or swelling could be a sign of infection or disease, which a dentist is best able to treat.

Some Minor Troubles

Fortunately, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are minor compared to these situations, but they may still produce discomfort or irritation. Generally, it’s best to try and soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call our clinic to schedule a visit; that way, we can allocate sufficient time to take care of you. Here are a few of the more common orthodontic problems, along with some tips on what you can do to relieve them at home:

Broken or loose brackets, bands or wires

This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as it is, but don’t connect any elastics to it! You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it’s irritating the inside of your mouth. If it has come off, save it. In either case, call our clinic to let us know what happened, and we will schedule an appointment. Be sure to bring any loose parts with you to the appointment!

Poking or misplaced archwire, bracket or tie

This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as it is, but don’t connect any elastics to it! You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it’s irritating the inside of your mouth. If it has come off, save it. In either case, call our clinic to let us know what happened, and we will schedule an appointment. Be sure to bring any loose parts with you to the appointment!

General tooth pain or loosening

It’s normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment; that shows they are moving! Sometimes, this movement may coexist with tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor soreness, you can use a regular pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water, and rinse for 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.

While actual emergencies are rare, our goal is to make orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible. If you need additional advice, don’t hesitate to call us!