How to Handle An Orthodontic Emergency

No one likes to make extra or unneeded trips to a medical office, even when it’s a fun and comfortable environment like Krieger Orthodontics. But when you have a problem with your braces or other orthodontic appliances, it can be hard to know for sure if you need to seek professional help to solve the problem or if it’s something you can take care of on your own. That’s why we’ve provided this handy guide to emergency triage for orthodontic treatment and all the common problems our patients experience. 

Orthodontic Emergencies 

True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but you may still encounter them from time to time. When we talk about true orthodontic emergencies, that includes:

  • any severe injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
  • any swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
  • any severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck

Orthodontic emergencies: when to seek help

If you experience any of the above symptoms while undergoing treatment with us here at Krieger Orthodontics, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible. If you’re a current patient, our convenient Lewisville office means we’re always here when you need us to be. However, if you feel that the emergency room may be your best option to treat an orthodontic emergency, go! 

You might wonder how you’ll know if an oral issue is worth an immediate ER visit or if it’s a situation where you can safely watch and wait. One good example of a problem requiring immediate diagnosis and treatment would be something like a fractured tooth. Another would be any type of severe pain or swelling around your teeth, jaw, or mouth, which can be a sign of infection and disease. The good news is, these kinds of major orthodontic emergencies don’t happen often. It’s much more common to experience “minor” emergencies that can be treated at home until Dr. Krieger can see you.

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Orthodontic emergencies: major or minor?

For true orthodontic emergencies, please call our office as soon as possible, or seek emergency treatment. For more minor emergencies, you may treat the symptoms at home, but contact our team to schedule you for an appointment to assess the issue or text our emergency number 972-360-8407 for immediate attention. These minor orthodontic emergencies can include:

Mouth sores

Although orthodontic appliances themselves don’t cause mouth sores, some patients appear to be more susceptible to getting them during the treatment process. These ulcers show up on the cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums and can be uncomfortable. Irritation from braces can also make them worse. For immediate relief, try using a cotton swab to directly apply a small amount of topical anesthetic to the ulcer. Follow the instructions included with the packaging for ease of use.

Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires

If any part of your braces comes loose or breaks, get in touch with one of our doctors as soon as you can so they can determine what your next steps should be. While you’re waiting for an appointment, there are a few guidelines to follow to keep your braces safe. If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, don’t connect any elastics to it, and try to leave it alone until we can see you. If it’s irritating the inside of your mouth, you can cover that part with orthodontic wax. If a piece has broken off, please place it in a bag until your appointment with us.

Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie

As your teeth begin to adjust to orthodontic treatment, they move into the positions laid out in your treatment plan. During this process, the archwire that connects them may also move, which can sometimes result in it poking out a bit near the back of the mouth. This may irritate your cheeks and possibly your gums. Fortunately, a wire-like this can easily be moved into a better spot using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab.

If the wires or ties become misplaced, they can often be manipulated back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers. You can also use a pinch of orthodontic wax to cover any part of your wires or brackets that have shifted and irritated your mouth. This will help give you some immediate relief but contact our office as soon as possible to correct the actual problem.

Tooth pain or loosening

During orthodontic treatment, your teeth will loosen slightly. This can be disconcerting, but it’s actually what we want them to do. That said, the movement may occasionally cause some slight tenderness, mostly right after you have your braces put on or following an adjustment appointment. Try doing a saltwater rinse twice a day by mixing one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds. 

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Orthodontic emergencies: Krieger Orthodontics is here to help!

True orthodontic emergencies may be rare, but they happen. You should seek treatment as soon as possible if you experience one, but we know that even minor emergencies can be upsetting. That’s why we’re committed to keeping your orthodontic experience with us as safe and stress-free as possible! If you experience any discomfort with your orthodontic appliance, call our office, text our emergency number 972-360-8407, or complete a virtual visit with pictures of the problem. We’ll find a solution that has you smiling again in no time.