Emergency Care for Your Braces
True orthodontic emergencies are rare but can happen. If you are experiencing severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can't take care of yourself, we're here to help.
We'll help you treat the pain and fix the issue. Most likely we'll schedule a consult or appointment in between scheduled appointments to take care of the problem.
Below, we have outlined common emergencies, which have varying degrees of seriousness. Follow our instructions for each problem, whether it is a quick fix or if you need to come see us immediately!
While this may feel like an emergency, general soreness is totally normal!
When you first get your braces, you'll probably feel a bit of general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft foods diet until your teeth do not hurt to chew – so, bring on the ice cream!
Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Mix one teaspoon of salt into 8oz. of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously. An alternative (better tasting) mouthwash is the Healthy Gums Rinse by The Natural Dentist.
Placing a pain reliever such as Orabase (which can be found over-the-counter in any pharmacy)on the affected area may also help relieve discomfort. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen can actually slow tooth movement, so isn't a great option during treatment.
Food in Your Braces
Although food in your braces can be irritating or cause discomfort, it is an easy fix and not a serious emergency.
To remove the food from your braces, simply grab some dental floss and follow along: tie a small knot in the middle of the floss, then floss and dislodge the food with the help of the knot. If you have a toothpick or an interproximal brush, these are also handy tools for removing the food from your braces.
Irritated Lips, Cheeks, And Mouth
A side effect of braces is having sore or irritated spots in your mouth. Especially when eating, braces can wear down on soft tissues nearby and result in mouth sores.
If you see ulcers or sores in your mouth, there are a few things you can do. Apply a topical anesthetic (such as Orajel) with a cotton swab to the area, and reapply as needed until the sore is soothed.
Another way to fix this is to go straight to the source: the braces. Add a small ball of relief wax, which we can provide to you, and form it over brackets or wires that are in the irritated spot.
If your braces are poking your tongue, cheek or gum, place soft wax on the piece that's sticking out. If the wire has slid to one side, you or a family member can pull it back to the other side with needle-nosed pliers, replacing it in the tube on the back tooth.
If the wire is still poked out, quite severely, you will need to let your orthodontist know. Schedule an appointment to come in and let us clip the wire so you can wear your braces comfortably again!
Loose Bands, Brackets, Or Wires
Using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers, try to put your wire back into place. If the wire won't cooperate or you can't get the wire into a comfortable position, try covering it with wax to prevent poking.
As a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it, and give our office a call as soon as possible.
Swallowing a Piece of Your Appliance
While very uncommon, pieces of your appliance can be swallowed. In the event of this, the patient may have difficulty breathing or may cough excessively. Keep the patient calm, and try removing it – unless this would cause further damage. If the patient still cannot breathe, go to the emergency room.
If the patient can breathe and is not in immediate danger, contact our office, and an orthodontist will meet with you as soon as possible.