Orthodontic Emergencies

Our team at Krieger Orthodontics works hard to ensure that your orthodontic treatment is as comfortable as possible, though, unforeseen problems do arise. Although true orthodontic emergencies are rare, you may encounter a problem with your appliance that causes mild to severe pain.  Most problems can be resolved at home giving you immediate relief and eliminating extra trips to the office. That being said, you may find yourself in a true orthodontic (or dental) emergency that needs immediate attention.  

What constitutes a true orthodontic emergency?

True orthodontic (or dental) emergencies may include:

  • Trauma or injury to the teeth, face, or mouth
  • Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth, or face
  • Severe unmanageable pain in the mouth

In any of these situations, you should seek help as soon as possible. Start with your orthodontist’s office unless you believe heading to the emergency room is your best option. In that case, once you’ve attended to the emergency situation, we can adjust your orthodontic treatment plan as needed.  The great news is that in many cases, orthodontic problems can be resolved at home. Listed below are some possible orthodontic situations and how they may be remedied at home until your next appointment.Minor orthodontic emergencies and remediesSore teeth or jawAnyone who has had braces can recall the pain of the first few weeks and the adjustment period. It’s normal but can be extremely annoying. Teeth become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment – that shows they’re moving! For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water and rinse for thirty seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.    Loose/broken brackets or bandsLoose or broken brackets are generally not an urgent problem in most cases. The most common cause is trying to eat hard or sticky candy or food. However, call our office if any part of your braces comes loose or broken, so we can determine what your next steps should be. If the broken piece has come off, put it in a bag and save it for your next appointment. If the bracket or band is still attached to the wire, leave it alone until your next appointment. If it’s irritating the inside of your mouth, you can cover it with orthodontic wax.Poking tie or wireAs your teeth begin adjusting to treatment, wire in braces may stick out and irritate your cheeks. If this happens, the wire can often be moved into a better position by using a pencil eraser or a cotton swab. You can also place a ball of wax on the wire as temporary relief. It is important to try to dry the area first with a cotton swab or paper towel. Additionally, you can use nail or wire clippers cleaned with rubbing alcohol and cut the wire yourself. If you are unable to resolve the issue, and the wire keeps bothering you, please give us a call.Wire is completely outOccasionally during treatment, the wire could completely come out of the tube. If this happens, try to push it back into the tube with your hands or tweezers. If you are unable to, you may use nail or wire clippers to cut the wire and remove any loose pieces. If you are unsuccessful, and the wire continues to bother you, give us a call. Loose/lost elasticIf you notice one of your elastic ties from around your bracket has come off, you may be able to put it back using tweezers cleaned in alcohol. If you notice of your elastic ties is missing, there is no need to call or visit the office. We will replace the ties at your next scheduled appointment.Mouth sores/ulcersIt is normal to experience small sores or ulcerations on the inside of your lips or cheeks at the beginning of treatment. You mouth needs to adjust to braces, and within a week, those ulcerations should begin to disappear on their own. Be sure to keep the area clean as your mouth adjusts.  You may use wax to cover the edges of hooks on the brackets that may be causing those ulcers. If you find that they continue to irritate you after a week, please give us a call.Broken RetainerSometimes a retainer can bend or break. If that happens, stop wearing the retainer and give us a call. If the retainer has broken, try to collect all the pieces in a bag and bring them to your next appointment.Swallowing braces or appliancesSwallowing braces or other appliances during orthodontic treatment tends to occur relatively infrequently. However, if it does occur, try to remain calm. It will usually go into the stomach and pass during normal bowel movement. If difficulty with breathing is experienced, you should seek immediate medical attention.  Handling orthodontic emergencies with the help of Krieger OrthodonticsLike every new experience, the journey toward a healthy smile comes with some natural anxiety and discomfort. However, Krieger Orthodontics is here to walk with you every step of the way.  Remember, true orthodontic emergencies are rare, but they do happen.  The best thing you can do in an emergency is remain calm. If you are unsure whether your emergency requires immediate attention or can be resolved at home, please give us a call. We will do everything we can to alleviate your discomfort and fix the problem as quickly as possible! Our orthodontic team is made up of a group of knowledgeable and caring professionals who take your comfort very seriously.