Preparing for an Orthodontic Emergency


“What Are Some Common Orthodontic Emergencies

Knowing what to do in case of an orthodontic emergency can help make your time in braces go more smoothly. What common issues can arise with braces, and how should they be handled?

During your time in braces, you may encounter some minor inconveniences, such as damage to a bracket or wire. Knowing how to handle a small orthodontic emergency can prepare you should one arise during your time in braces. Servello Orthodontics explains the most common orthodontic issues and what you need to know to handle them with ease.

First, it is important to understand what constitutes a true emergency and what is more of a minor issue. A true emergency includes:

  • Major trauma to the face, mouth, or teeth
  • Infection, swelling, or bleeding of the gums, face, or mouth
  • Severe discomfort that isn’t alleviated by pain medication or other treatment

If you experience any of these issues, it is important to call our office right away. In very serious cases, such as trauma or injury to the face, start at the emergency room for care right away. Then, call our office to determine if any damage has occurred to your braces.

The good news is, the most common orthodontic emergencies that arise during treatment are minor and can be handled at home until you can schedule an appointment with us.

  1. Loose brackets – Brackets are the small pieces that get bonded directly to your teeth. They hold the archwire in place while it does the heavy lifting of guiding the teeth to their new locations. On occasion, a bracket could come loose. This most commonly happens when patients eat foods on the do not eat list. Anything too hard, sticky, chewy, or crunchy could weaken the dental bonding and cause the bracket to loosen. If the bracket becomes loose but is still attached to the wire it is fine to leave it in place. You can use orthodontic wax to hold the bracket in place if it is bothering you. If the bracket comes off, save it and bring it with you to your appointment.
  2. Poking or irritating wire – As your teeth begin moving to their new locations, sometimes the archwire can start to poke the back of your mouth. This can irritate your cheeks. You can solve this by using a Q-tip or the eraser end of a pencil to gently guide the archwire into a more comfortable position. You can then use orthodontic wax to cover the end of the wire to prevent irritation. In some cases, you may want to try to clip the archwire. This can be done carefully by using a sterilized pair of fingernail clippers.
  3. Tooth pain – Unfortunately, there will be a bit of discomfort involved in orthodontic treatment. Your teeth are being guided through bone, and sometimes that can cause some minor discomfort. This will be especially true in the first few days after getting your braces placed and immediately after an adjustment. You should never experience serious pain, however. To alleviate any minor discomfort, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Warm salt water rinses are also excellent for helping to ease a tender mouth.
  4. Feeling of loose teeth – If you experience the sensation of your teeth feeling slightly loose, that’s a good sign. It means your treatment is working! To move to their new locations, they have to first loosen from their current locations. Once they have been guided to their permanent locations, a retainer will hold them in place until the bones and ligaments have a chance to solidify them in their new locations.
  5. Broken/damaged retainer or aligners – We know that accidents can happen over the course of your treatment. If you damage your aligners or retainer, call our office for a replacement.

While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, it’s not uncommon to hit a hiccup or two during your orthodontic treatment. We’re here to help you! If you experience any issues while in treatment, call our office and we’ll help walk you through the steps you need to take. We have two convenient offices to help – call us at 814-472-5277 (Ebenburg) or 814-317-5090 (Hollidaysburg).

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