This section is devoted to helping you take the proper action if you have problems with your braces. It is important for our patients to recognize the difference between major orthodontic emergencies(which may require immediate care) and minor orthodontic problems(which generally do not require immediate care and can be solved until it is convenient to return to our office).
Major Orthodontic Emergencies
For orthodontic emergencies, call: (512) 705-8646
Direct Injury to Mouth or Teeth
Following a direct injury to the mouth or teeth, whether undergoing orthodontic care or not, you should be seen by your family dentist as soon as possible. Usually an x-ray of the involved tooth or teeth is needed to determine the extent of the injury. If a tooth has been fractured or broken, it is best to contact your family dentist first, since we may not have the necessary materials needed to treat these injuries. If orthodontic appliances are dislodged or displaced, we will need to replace or adjust them after the injury has begun to heal.
Infected Teeth and Swelling
Teeth may become infected during orthodontic treatment. This is usually unrelated to orthodontics itself. Teeth can become infected when a baby tooth begins falling out or a permanent tooth has a large cavity. If you have an infected tooth or any type of swelling in the facial region it is best to contact your family dentist first. After the problem is resolved, please call our office so we may determine if any changes in orthodontic treatment are necessary.
Minor Orthodontic Emergencies
As you can see there are very few true orthodontic emergencies. However, during the course of treatment you may discover that you have loose or broken braces. You may also notice that the orthodontic wires may shift and begin irritating your lips or cheeks. Below are pictures of the different parts of braces and a list of common problems and how they may be remedied at home. If you have a problem that you cannot resolve on your own, call our office. We will be able to give you advice on how to solve the problem yourself or schedule you the appropriate appointment so that your problem can be fixed. You can also view our braces problems video for more demonstrations on how to correct common problems.
Parts of the Braces
Loose or Broken Braces
Long Poking Archwire
Tooth Discomfort and Sores or Ulcerations Inside the Mouth
Wire Out of Tube or Slot
Poking Metal Tie
Lost Elastic Tie
Headgear or Other Orthodontic Appliance Does Not Fit
You may discover that you have loose or broken braces. This is usually caused by playing with your braces or eating hard or sticky foods. This is generally not an emergency unless it is associated with pain or discomfort. If the bracket is attached to the wire, leave it in place and cover it with wax as needed for comfort. If the bracket comes out completely, bring it with you to your next appointment. Avoid connecting elastics or a headgear appliance to any loose brackets. Call the office to schedule an appointment to repair the bracket.
Eating hard or sticky foods or playing with your orthodontic braces can loosen a band. This is generally not an emergency unless it is associated with pain or discomfort. Avoid connecting elastics or a headgear appliance to any loose bands. If the band is still attached to the wire, it will usually wobble slightly. You can call the office to see if you need a special appointment to have the band recemented or if it can be done at your regularly scheduled appointment time. If the band comes off your tooth, the space needed to recement the band may close in a few days so call our office to schedule an appointment to have the band recemented. Remember to bring the band with you to your appointment.
Sometimes as your teeth shift, the ends of the wire will start poking out of the back of the molar tubes and begin irritating the cheeks. This problem may be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area using a cotton swab or pencil eraser. If the wire does not move, cover it with a small pea-sized amount of wax or cotton. You may also try cutting the wire with nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Call the office for an appointment if you cannot resolve the problem.
During the first week of treatment, you may notice generalized soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressure. This can happen because your lips and cheeks are not yet used to rubbing against your braces. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. Placing Orabase on the affected area may help; this can be found in your local pharmacy. If the tenderness is severe, take aspirin or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Also, you can place a small pea-sized amount of wax or cotton on the area of the braces that is causing the sore or ulceration. Over time, your skin on the inside of your mouth will get tougher and the sores will dissipate. If the sore or ulceration does not improve or gets worse, please tell us at your next visit so we can examine it.
During treatment, flexible wires may slip out of the bracket slots of the back teeth. This may be avoided by eating appropriate foods. If the wire comes out of the tube, try placing the wire back in the tube using tweezers. If necessary, cover the loose wire with wax and call the office for an appointment.
Occasionally, metal wires are used to tie the archwire to the brackets or bands. Sometimes during eating or brushing, this metal wire tie can accidentally be redirected and start to cause irritation to your lips or cheeks. You can try to push the wire back into place by using the end of a pencil eraser. If that is not possible, you can place wax on the area causing the irritation until you can come to the office for us to fix it.
If an elastic tie falls off, call the office and we will schedule an appointment to replace it.
Call the office for an appointment to have the orthodontic appliance or headgear adjusted.