Here at Bennett Orthodontics, it’s important to us that every patient we treat feels informed and confident about every step of the orthodontic process. Whether you’ve been in braces for a while, or are brand new to the world of brackets and wires, having some general knowledge about the issues that can occur with them can give you a better experience overall!
While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do sometimes happen. Knowing how to handle these issues can make it less stressful and upsetting if they do pop up, and help you understand the next steps to take. But what do we mean by “true orthodontic emergency”? In general, this would include any of the following:
- serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
- swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
- severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck
If you experience any of these symptoms while undergoing orthodontic treatment with us, we recommend you get in touch with us as soon as possible. If you’re a current patient, you can start with our Mobile office, or even contact your general dentist. However, if you feel your needs would better be served by an urgent care clinic or the emergency room, please don’t hesitate to go. Some patients worry that their orthodontic plan will be interrupted by emergency treatment, but we can always pick up where we left off or adjust things once the emergency has passed.
How to handle minor “emergencies” at home
You may be unsure about what would constitute an orthodontic emergency, especially in the heat of the moment. While some issues warrant an immediate ER visit, you may be able to simply “wait and see” with other situations. Take a fractured tooth, for example. Something of this nature would require immediate diagnosis and treatment. The same is true of any severe pain or swelling around your teeth, jaw, or mouth, since this can be a sign of infection or disease.
Fortunately, these types of emergencies tend to be few and far between! While it’s helpful to have a plan in place in the event of an actual emergency, quite a few minor issues can be remedied from the comfort of your own home. These home remedies might not always be able to eliminate all the pain, discomfort, or irritation you’re experiencing, but they can be very efficient at lessening symptoms until we can see you in our office.
Below you’ll find a list of the most common minor “emergencies” braces patients are likely to counter. Keep reading for more information about them, including what you can do if they happen to you!
Some patients just seem to be more susceptible than others to getting mouth sores during orthodontic treatment, and any irritation from braces can exacerbate them. If you’re prone to ulcers on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums while wearing braces, you can get some relief by swabbing a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the sore. This can be reapplied as needed, taking care to follow the instructions included with the packaging. Orthodontic wax can also be used to cover the bracket or aligner area that’s causing irritation.
Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires
If any part of your braces comes loose or breaks, you should let us know as soon as possible so we can help you determine what your next steps should be. There are a few guidelines you can follow to keep your braces and your mouth safe in the meantime, however.
If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, try to leave it alone until you can be seen. Do not connect any elastics to it. If this begins to irritate the inside of your mouth, you can cover that part with orthodontic wax. If a piece has actually broken off, please place it in a bag and bring it with you to your appointment.
Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie
As your treatment progresses, the teeth will begin to move into the preferred positions. This can cause the archwire that connects to move as well, which may result in it poking out a bit near the back of your mouth. If this results in irritation, you can remedy it relatively easily by moving the wire into a better spot using the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab.
If your wires or ties are misplaced, they can often be manipulated back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. If wires or brackets have shifted and are irritating your mouth, try a pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out. This will help relieve the immediate discomfort, but be sure to contact us as soon as you can so Dr. Bennett can assess the problem and correct it.
Tooth pain or loose teeth
It may sound scary, but we actually want your teeth to loosen slightly during orthodontic treatment! It’s all part of the process. That said, this type of movement can sometimes cause a bit of tenderness, especially right after your braces are put on, or following an adjustment appointment. Salt water rinses are a tried and true home remedy that can really help 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 offer some relief as well!
Bennett Orthodontics is here to help
Although true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do happen from time to time. If you experience one, you should seek treatment from an experienced and qualified orthodontist like Dr. Bennett as soon as possible.
We know that even minor emergency situations can be upsetting, and that’s why you can always count on our expert team to provide an orthodontic experience that’s safe, stress-free, and rewarding!
We create beautiful smiles every day for patients of all ages, and that process doesn’t have to be painful. If you’ve been experiencing any discomfort with your braces, or are having trouble with any other aspect of your orthodontic treatment, get in touch with us today. We’ll help you get to the bottom of it, and have you smiling again in no time!