orthodontic emergencies

How to Resolve Common Concerns at Home

Patients typically wait four to six weeks between orthodontic visits. More often than not, everything goes as planned, and patients will see us as scheduled for their adjustments. However, dental emergencies may arise on rare occasions. While they may be uncommon, addressing the issue is crucial to avoid disrupting your treatment plan.

It’s important to note that true “orthodontic emergencies” do not exist. Braces or Invisalign should not cause excessive concern or require medical treatment beyond a visit to the orthodontist. However, it is possible to experience a dental emergency during your orthodontic treatment if you sustain an unexpected injury or infection.
While you can resolve many common orthodontic concerns at home, dental emergencies require professional support. That’s why we want to define what is and is not an emergency and explore proper ways to resolve common issues at home. By staying informed, you can avoid unnecessary trips to the orthodontist and ensure your treatment stays on track!

Not every ache or sore constitutes an orthodontic emergency. However, if you notice any of these listed items, you may be experiencing an emergency and should contact your orthodontist as soon as possible:

  • Intense or unmanageable pain
  • An injury to the mouth or face
  • Fractured teeth
  • Oral infections or swelling

How to Assess an Orthodontic Emergency

If you experience pain or discomfort during your orthodontic treatment, there are a few steps you can take to find a solution. They are as follows:

Evaluate the severity of your pain.
Do any of the previously mentioned concerns apply? If so, please see your orthodontist.

Identify the problem. Do you have a wire poking your mouth or a bracket rubbing against your cheek? Open wide and pinpoint the source of your pain!

Try fixing the issue at home. Keep reading to explore our at-home recommendations. However, please contact your orthodontist if the following tips are unsuccessful.

One of the most common concerns orthodontic patients face is tooth soreness. This pain is normal, minimal, and subsides quickly. In fact, it is often a sign that your teeth are making their way into the desired position! Here are a few simple ways to alleviate the soreness at home:

  • Stick to a soft diet. Chewing hard or crunchy foods may feel uncomfortable on days when your teeth are shifting a lot. Yogurt, apple sauce, and smoothies are all excellent snack options.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Make sure to give your mouth a little extra TLC when your teeth start to ache. Soft-bristled toothbrushes will ensure you’re not too abrasive on the sensitive area.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers. Common household pain relievers can help take your mind off the pain following an adjustment.
Braces can commonly rub the inside of your mouth and cause small sores or ulcers. Although uncomfortable, they are a normal part of the adjustment process, usually heal quickly, and your mouth will get used to the braces in no time. However, you can alleviate the immediate discomfort by taking over-the-counter pain medication, applying orthodontic wax to the affected areas, and using topical gels. It is also important to avoid touching the affected spot or consuming anything super acidic while it heals.

You may experience discomfort when the wire at the end of your braces pokes out and irritates your gums or cheeks. However, there are some simple at-home solutions to this issue.

  • Utilize orthodontic wax. If the wire is only slightly protruding, you can use wax to create a soft barrier between your mouth and the metal.
  • Use a pencil eraser. You can also use a disinfected pencil eraser to gently push the wire back into place or away from the irritated area. Your orthodontist can then properly reposition the wire at your next appointment.

Usually, small mouth sores caused by wires will heal quickly. However, to clean the affected area and prevent infection, we suggest rinsing your mouth with warm salt water daily until it heals.

We strongly advise against cutting the wire unless it’s absolutely necessary, as there is a risk of accidentally swallowing the wire fragment. If you are the parent of a very young orthodontic patient or feel uncertain about this solution, we recommend seeking professional guidance from your orthodontist.

Wires can occasionally slip away from multiple brackets. If this happens, you can carefully place the wire back into position using disinfected tweezers. However, we recommend visiting your orthodontist to avoid compromising your treatment if the wire does not fit back into place.

When a bracket separates from the tooth, it will remain stuck on the wire and move freely within the allotted space. Fortunately, this problem doesn’t require immediate professional attention.

If the bracket is at the last tooth in your mouth, you can cut the wire to release it (only if you are comfortable doing so). Then, use orthodontic wax to ensure the exposed wire does not poke your cheek. However, if the loose bracket is between several others, use a pair of tweezers to remove the rubber band. This will release the bracket from the wire, and your orthodontist will replace it at your next appointment.

There is no need to worry if one of your bands comes off, as your treatment will not be affected. The wire is held securely by the brackets, and the elastic bands only provide additional support.

If you notice a rubber band has come off, you can reattach it at home using a sanitized tweezer. Alternatively, you may choose to leave it off until your next appointment. If the bracket becomes loose, gently push it back into place using clean tweezers.

Orthodontic treatments sometimes require coil springs. If the spring becomes slightly out of place, you can reposition it using tweezers or cover it with orthodontic wax until your next appointment. However, if a large portion of the wire becomes displaced, visit your orthodontist as soon as possible to resolve the issue.
If your braces have steel ligatures, there is a chance that they may come loose and cause discomfort by poking areas inside your mouth. In such cases, you can gently readjust the ligature using the clean end of a pencil eraser. Alternatively, patients can apply wax to shield the wire for temporary relief until their next appointment.
Do not wear your retainer if it breaks, and contact your orthodontist for a replacement. A damaged retainer can cause uneven pressure on your teeth, which leads to incorrect shifting. Therefore, addressing a broken retainer promptly to avoid setbacks in your orthodontic progress is essential!
Thankfully, when you choose Invisalign, you do not need to worry about poky wires, broken brackets, or anything falling out of place. However, you might find yourself in a situation where you break or lose a tray. If this happens, you can move up to the next set of Invisalign retainer plates. This is not a true orthodontic emergency, but please contact us if you have missing attachments or trays that are not fitting properly.

Contact Us For More Information

If you are unsure of the proper course of action after reading our recommendations, please don’t hesitate to contact your respective Texas Tiny Teeth dental office. We keep slots open in our schedule for true emergencies, and we will assist you in identifying the best course of action to resolve any other issues at home.

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