How to Deal With Orthodontic Emergencies (FACTS)

Orthodontic Emergencies. Orthodontics is a great way to fix teeth and jaw misalignments, but every now and then, the complicated equipment can cause a problem. Of course, the best thing to do in any orthodontic emergency is to contact your orthodontist office right away, but sometimes you might have an issue while the office is closed or you are traveling. Fortunately, there are many simple fixes for orthodontics problems that can either temporarily or permanently end the emergency. If you are faced with one of these issues, it may be possible to deal with it at home.




Broken or Missing Ligatures

Ligatures are the tiny wires or colored rubber bands that hold the long arch wire onto each individual bracket. Every now and then, a rubber ligature, which is also called an O-ring, may start to slide off the bracket. If you are not missing the O-ring, you may be able to gently stretch it back over the bracket with a pair of disinfected tweezers.

Tweezers can also be used to carefully bend a wire ligature back into place if has gotten knocked out of position. However, if the ligature is completely gone, it will need to be replaced. You might be able to wait a few weeks if you just lose one ligature in the back, but losing one in the front typically requires a more prompt replacement. You can contact your orthodontist about getting a replacement ligature.


Wire Edges Poking the Mouth

The ends of each archwire are supposed to remain close to the brackets, but occasionally the archwire will start to work itself loose. This could fall under the ‘orthodontic emergencies’ bracket.  A lengthy archwire end will often poke the back of the patient’s mouth, causing quite a bit of discomfort. You may be able to fix this by using a pencil eraser to bend the archwire slightly until it is closer to the surface of the tooth.

If this does not work, it is recommended that you just put orthodontic wax over the end to avoid any wounds until you can see an orthodontist. Though it is technically possible to snip the too long wire yourself, there is a very high risk of accidentally cutting your mouth, so this method of fixing a poking wire end is not advised.


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Food Stuck Under Archwires

Getting any food stuck under the archwire or between teeth is not actually part of Orthodontic Emergencies. But it is definitely a common problem among people with orthodonture. Not only is stuck food embarrassing, but it can also feel uncomfortable and potentially cause cavities. Therefore, removing it should be a priority. A toothpick can often help to remove the food without getting stuck in the archwire. If this does not work, try tying a small knot in a piece of dental floss, threading this piece of floss under the archwire, and then flossing between teeth until the food is removed.


Braces Causing Mouth Sores

This is most common right after the orthodontic equipment is first installed. But some patients with sensitive mouths continue to get sores from the brackets and wires rubbing against the inside of their cheeks. Not only are these sores uncomfortable, but they can cause problems if they get infected. You can often keep them from getting worse by applying a small amount of orthodontic wax over the part that is causing the sore. This will smooth out the rough area so that the mouth is not further irritated. You can also temporarily ease any pain by putting a topical oral anesthetic on the surface of the sore.


Sore Mouth After Adjustments

Each time the orthodontic equipment is adjusted or the patient starts wearing a new Invisalign tray, a patient might feel some soreness or tenderness as the teeth are pulled into alignment. Though there is no way to prevent this uncomfortable orthodontic issue, it is possible to reduce any pain. Swishing warm salt water through the patient’s mouth and taking over the counter pain medications can provide some relief. In the first few days after adjustments, sticking to softer foods will also help to reduce potential pain.


Broken Chains or Elastics

Though not everyone has them, sometimes chains or longer elastic bands are hooked between the top and bottom teeth. These gently pull the teeth and the jaw into proper alignment. If these break, it is not an issue that needs immediate attention, but they still might need to be replaced. Though you should always carry backup elastics around with you, it is still possible to run out of new ones before your next appointment. If this happens, it is typically recommended that you call the office about getting a replacement.

Brackets Coming Loose

The brackets are the parts of braces that are glued to the teeth. This adhesive is designed to only be temporary, so every now and then it is possible for a bracket to get loose. Typically, this happens if the patient is eating crunchy food, but it is sometimes unavoidable. When a bracket’s adhesive is loosened, it normally remains stuck to the archwire but it slides back and forth between the teeth.

You should contact your orthodontic office to see about getting the bracket bonded to the tooth again. Do this as soon as possible. Until you can get the bracket fixed, use tweezers to gently rotate the bracket into its correct position. This moves it back to the middle of the proper tooth. The pressure from the archwire should hold it in place until it can be bonded again.


Orthodontic Emergencies and More…

Contact Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics today to set up your consultation for Orthodontic Emergencies. 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. Dr. Jasmine Gorton & Dr. Bill Schmohl can serve you the very best. 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.

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Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
900 Larkspur Landing Circle
Suite 200, Larkspur, California 94939
tel: 415-459-8006

How to Deal With Orthodontic Emergencies (FACTS)