4 Steps to Dealing With an Orthodontic Emergency
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When you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, you put a lot of time, energy, and effort into keeping your smile looking great. Whether you’ve chosen Invisalign or a traditional metal option, you want your teeth to look their best when they finally come off. Not only that, however, you want your smile back as soon as possible–which means that when you have problems, you need your orthodontist to fix them quickly! If you’re experiencing an orthodontic emergency, there are several steps that you should take quickly.
1. Define Emergency.
True orthodontic emergencies don’t occur very often. Even the most severe “emergencies”–broken appliances, brackets, etc–can typically be fixed with a visit to the orthodontist during the next available business hours. Make sure, before you call your office in a panic, that you know whether or not you’re really dealing with an emergency. It’s also important to know what requires immediate attention and what can wait until you can get into the office.
2. See If It Can Be Fixed
In many cases, you can fix problems for yourself–or at least manage a temporary fix that will hold you until you can get in for an appointment. For example, if you have a loose wire that is poking or causing discomfort, you may be able to use a q-tip or pencil eraser to gently tuck it back into place. A wire that has come loose often be gently replaced with a pair of tweezers; if you’re having trouble getting it to hold or it has sharp edges that are causing discomfort, try using orthodontic wax to secure the wire temporarily and provide relief.
If a bracket has come loose, it can be gently set back in place or removed entirely until an appointment can be made. The tiny rubber bands, or ligatures, that hold wires in place on brackets can also be replaced with tweezers if they come off. If the missing ligature has been lost completely, simply leave the wire alone until an appointment can be made. Larger missing or damaged pieces should be left in place until an orthodontic appointment can be made. It’s important, however, to avoid swallowing broken pieces if at all possible. If this does occur, it’s no reason to panic! Simply make sure the airway isn’t obstructed and that the piece isn’t hung in the throat.
In many cases, the individual with the problem may not be able to fix it on their own. Having an extra set of hands and a set of eyes that doesn’t have to look in the mirror is often the best way to get a problem fixed and braces back to normal. Applying wax or Oragel, however, can typically be fixed by the individual with the problem.
3. Look for Solutions to Problems
Some soreness is normal and expected when you’re wearing braces, especially after you’ve first had them put on or tightened. This isn’t an emergency; it’s a normal part of getting the smile you’ve always dreamed of. From invisalign to traditional metal options, getting your smile fixed is sometimes uncomfortable. The end result, however, is well worth it!
If you’re getting sores in your mouth as a result of brackets rubbing, try placing orthodontic wax over the brackets or wires in the sore spots. They’ll continue to work on your teeth, but won’t cause the same damage to the inside of your cheeks, your tongue, or your lips while you’re healing. You can also use a topical anesthetic like Oragel to temporarily relieve discomfort. Be sure that you’re carefully following the instructions on the package, and discontinue use once your mouth has healed.
Food stuck in brackets or stuck under wires is an embarrassing problem that everyone with braces experiences at least once, but it’s not an emergency! A special brush or dental floss with a knot tied in it is usually enough to get the food out of the way. Be careful flossing or brushing around delicate or loose appliances or brackets so that you don’t cause further damage.
4. Don’t Forget to Call the Office
If you’re experiencing any problem or have doubts about what to do, always call your orthodontist’s office at the first opportunity to make sure that they don’t need you to come in earlier than your next scheduled appointment. Over time, you’ll learn what issues require only a quick fix on your part and which ones are going to require a call. In the meantime, however, never hesitate to put a call in to the office. They’ve heard it all, seen it all, and have a pretty good idea of how to manage most orthodontic problems and concerns. The receptionist may be able to give you all the advice you need, but if not, the doctor will return your call as soon as possible.
Orthodontic problems are a normal part of wearing brackets and wires to help fix your teeth. There are, however, several things that you can do to prevent them. First and foremost, avoid the crunchy foods listed on the list that was given to you when you first started your treatment. They’re on the “avoid this food” list for a reason! Second, make sure that you always wear a mouth guard when playing sports. While this is recommended to all individuals engaged in contact sports in order to protect the teeth, it’s even more critical for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. Finally, try to avoid poking at your orthodontic appliances with your tongue. While they may be uncomfortable, poking at them can cause them to bend or break, which prevents them from completing the treatment that you need to receive.
Fix Your Smile Today
Contact Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics today to set up your consultation. There’s no reason to put off a visit to our helpful team of professionals. It is our goal to help you make the most of your smile.
When your teeth are aligned properly and your jaw is flowing smoothly, you will find more reasons to flash those pearly whites every day. Let Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics be your partner in good oral hygiene.
Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
900 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 200, Larkspur, California 94939 415-459-8006
Dr. Jasmine Gorton, a Bay Area native, graduated from UC Berkeley with Bachelor degrees in both Integrative Biology and Social Sciences and then went on to graduate from Harvard with honors for her Doctorate in Dental Medicine.
She continued her education at UCSF with a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Growth and Development, followed by an Orthodontic Residency with a Master of Science in Oral Biology.