During the holiday season, many of our patients find themselves traveling here, there, and everywhere to spend quality time with family and friends. If you’re hitting the road in the next week or two, it’s the perfect time to brush up on what to do in the event of an orthodontic emergency.
Most of the problems that tend to pop up with braces aren’t serious, but true orthodontic emergencies can occur from time to time. It’s helpful to know how to proceed if you do experience one of these at any point during treatment, especially if you’re out of town or away from home!
What does an orthodontic emergency look like?
When we talk about a “true orthodontic emergency” here at Brilliant Smiles Orthodontics, what we generally mean is:
- any serious 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
If you experience any of these symptoms at any time in the treatment process, we recommend you call our office as soon as you’re able to. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with your regular dentist. If you’re concerned enough that urgent care or the ER seems like a good option, please go! Some patients worry that this will somehow interrupt their treatment plan, but we can always pick up where we left off or adjust things once the emergency has passed.
Minor orthodontic “emergencies”
The good news is, major emergencies tend to be few and far between! It’s smart to be prepared for them, but most issues will be minor problems that can be remedied from the comfort of your own home. Home remedies won’t always be able to entirely eliminate any pain, discomfort, or irritation you’re experiencing, but they can be very effective at lessening your symptoms until we can see you.
We’ve listed some of the most common minor “emergencies” you’re likely to encounter below, and included a few tips for relieving your discomfort without ever leaving the house!
Unfortunately, some patients are just naturally more susceptible to getting mouth sores than others, and braces can exacerbate the irritation. If you’re prone to ulcers on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums, you can get some relief by swabbing a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the sore. This can be reapplied as needed, following the instructions included with the packaging.
If the irritation is coming from a loose bracket or wire that’s poking out, you can use a small amount of orthodontic wax to cover that area. Just remember to remove the wax when you brush your teeth, then reapply as needed.
Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires
While we’re on the subject of brackets and wires, these can sometimes come loose or break. If this happens, please contact our office as soon as possible so we can help you determine what your next steps should be. While you’re waiting to see Dr. Chiang, there are a few things you can do to keep your braces and your mouth safe.
If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, try to leave it alone until you can be seen, and don’t connect any elastics to it. If it’s irritating the inside of your mouth, you can cover the offending part with orthodontic wax. If you notice that a piece has actually broken off, place it in a bag and bring it with you to your appointment.
Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie
Throughout the treatment process, your braces will gently move your teeth into more desirable positions. During this time, the archwire that connects them may also move around a bit. This can sometimes cause it to poke out near the back of your mouth, irritating the sensitive tissues there. This can be remedied relatively easily by moving the wire into a better spot using the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab.
If a wire or tie becomes misplaced, you’ll often be able to manipulate it back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. A pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out will help relieve some of the immediate discomfort, but be sure to contact us as soon as you can so Dr. Chiang can correct any underlying problems.
Tooth pain or loose teeth
While it sounds a little weird, we actually want your teeth to loosen slightly during treatment, as it facilitates movement. This can sometimes cause slight tenderness, especially right after you get your braces put on or after an adjustment appointment. A salt water rinse is an excellent home remedy for this. To relieve soreness, simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or a warm heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can also offer you some relief.
In case of an emergency, our team is here to help!
While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do happen. If you experience one, we encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible. Major incidents aside, we know that even minor emergencies can be upsetting. That’s why we do everything we can to provide you with an orthodontic experience that’s safe and stress-free!
Brilliant Smiles Orthodontics creates beautiful smiles for patients of all ages in Missouri City and the surrounding communities. Thanks to our talented team, that process doesn’t have to be painful. If you’ve been experiencing any discomfort with your braces, or have concerns about your treatment plan, get in touch with us today and let us get to the bottom of it. Dr. Chiang will have you smiling again in no time!