Orthodontic emergencies are really not very common. However, when they do occur, we are always available to help you. Just give us a call if you have a problem, and we’ll schedule an appointment to take care of it. There are a few “tricks of the trade” to fix some problems that we’d like to teach you to get you by until you can get back to see us at the office. Check out the topics below for a possible solution for a problem that you may be experiencing.
Food Caught Between Teeth
This is not an emergency, but can be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing. It is easily fixed with a piece of dental floss. Try tying a small knot in the middle of the floss to help remove the food. Or use an interproximal brush or toothpick to dislodge food caught between teeth and braces.
Ligatures Come Off
If a rubber ligature should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with tweezers. If the wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation. Of course, when one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow. Be sure to examine all ligatures before going on with your day. If you notice any missing or broken ligatures, please bring this to the attention of our team members at your next appointment.
It’s perfectly normal for you to have discomfort for a day or two after braces or retainers are adjusted. But it can make eating uncomfortable. Don’t be concerned, please understand that this discomfort is both normal and temporary. Encourage soft foods. You may find that rinsing your mouth with warm salt water is helpful. If the discomfort persists, then over-the-counter pain relievers, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be effective.
You may be susceptible to periodic episodes of mouth sores. While braces do not cause them, they may be precipitated or exacerbated by an irritation from braces. One or several areas of ulceration of the cheeks, lips or tongue may appear. This is not an emergency, but may be very uncomfortable for you. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. You can reapply this as necessary to keep the area comfotable.
Irritation in Mouth
Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when you are eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between metal and mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. You nay find that this allows you to eat food more comfortably. Don’t worry if you accidentally swallow some wax; it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.
Occasionally the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your mouth. You can use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. (See Irritation in Mouth above for instructions on applying relief wax.) Please make our office aware of the problem at your next visit. In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome and you will not be able to come in to our office anytime soon, as a last resort, you may clip the wire. Reduce the possibility of you swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area. Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Relief wax may still be necessary to provide comfort to the irritated area.
Loose Bracket or Band
Brackets and bands are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They can be knocked off in the event you have eaten one of those hard or crunchy foods that you were instructed to avoid, or if your mouth was struck during a sporting activity. If the band or bracket is off center, the adhesive may have failed. Please call our office to schedule an appointment to fix this problem. If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out, you can do a temporary fix to alleviate discomfort and prevent further damage. But take care to prevent swallowing or other injury. To put the bracket back in place, use tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth. Rotate the bracket back to the proper position, then slide it back to the center of the tooth.