Emergencies are scary, especially when they involve us. When it comes to true orthodontic emergencies, fortunately, they are rare. Our team at Bennett Orthodontics works hard to ensure that your orthodontic treatment is as comfortable as possible. When you first get braces or when they are adjusted, it is normal to feel some slight discomfort. However, occasionally you may encounter a problem that causes more severe pain. Typically, these kinds of problems can be resolved at home, giving you immediate relief and eliminating extra trips to the office. That being said, a true orthodontic (or dental) emergency can happen, and if so, it will need immediate attention. Let’s look at what constitutes a true orthodontic emergency.

True dental emergencies may include:

  • Major trauma or injury to the teeth, face, or mouth
  • Infection, swelling and/or bleeding of the gums, mouth, or face
  • Severe unmanageable pain in the mouth

If any of these situations should arise, seek the help of your general dentist as soon as possible. Depending on the injury, heading to the emergency room may be your best option. Once you have attended to the emergency situation, call us to set up a follow-up appointment.  We will evaluate your appliances and adjust your orthodontic treatment plan as needed.

Minor orthodontic emergencies and remedies

The great news is that the vast majority of orthodontic problems are considered minor even though they are painful. In these cases, you may be surprised to learn that you can temporarily resolve many of these problems and the discomfort that comes with them right from your own home while you wait for your next appointment. Listed below are some possible orthodontic situations and how they may be remedied at home.

broken retainer

Loose/Broken Brackets, Bands, or Wires

Generally, loose or broken brackets are not an urgent problem. If the broken piece has come off, put it in a plastic bag and save it for your next appointment. If the bracket or band is still attached to the wire, leave it alone and call our office. If it is irritating or scraping the inside of your mouth, you can cover it with orthodontic wax. Either way, be sure to give us a call, so we can determine what your next steps should be.

Misplaced or Poking Archwire, Bracket, or Tie

As your teeth begin adjusting to treatment, the wire 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 Q-tip. If you choose this option, be sure to dry the area first with a cotton swab or paper towel. If misplaced wires or ties are causing you trouble, you may be able to put them back with a pair of tweezers cleaned in rubbing alcohol. If you notice one of your elastic ties is missing, there is no need to call our office.  We will replace the ties at your next scheduled appointment. If any wires or brackets are irritating your mouth, you can cover them with orthodontic wax for temporary relief. Additionally, you can gently trim some wires using nail or wire clippers cleaned with rubbing alcohol. If you are unable to resolve the issue, please give us a call.

General Tooth Pain or Loosening

When you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is common to feel that your teeth are loose – this means they are moving! Sometimes, this can be accompanied by tenderness. 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. Topical numbing solutions such as Ora-base are helpful to alleviate ulcer pain.     

Broken Retainer

Retainers are not indestructible. It is possible for the metal or plastic parts of your retainer to bend or break. If this happens, stop wearing the retainer immediately and give us a call. If the retainer has broken, collect all the pieces in a plastic bag and bring them to your next appointment.  Be sure to call and schedule as soon as possible so that you are not going without a retainer for an extended period of time, as your teeth can shift.

Swallowing Braces or Appliances

Swallowing braces or other appliances tends to occur relatively infrequently. If it does occur, try to remain calm. Whatever has been swallowed will normally pass during regular bowel movements. However, if you experience difficulty breathing as a result, you should seek immediate medical attention.  

Woman at a doctor consultation

Handling orthodontic emergencies with the help of Bennett Orthodontics

While rare, orthodontic emergencies can happen. The best thing you can do in an emergency is remain calm. As a general rule, call our office first if you experience severe pain or have an appliance problem you cannot resolve at home. We will do everything we can to alleviate your discomfort and fix the problem as quickly as possible!

The journey to your beautiful smile should be enjoyable. Dr. Bennett and his team do everything in their power to provide the best orthodontic experience possible to every patient and parent. If you have any questions or are considering orthodontic treatment, please contact our Mobile, AL orthodontic office to schedule a complimentary consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner you will be on your way to a beautiful new smile. We hope to see you soon!