How to Handle Orthodontic Emergencies

At some point during your treatment, something will go wrong with your braces. At home, on vacation, or running on a sports field, it can spark fear to feel your braces start to break. These orthodontic “emergencies” are actually relatively minor, even if they don’t seem that way at the moment! Your orthodontist is well equipped to reattach a wire or a bracket, or adjust a loose or poking piece of metal. But, it’s always best to be prepared. So, there are some things to do after a braces emergency to make sure your treatment continues without a hitch.

Common Orthodontic Emergencies

So what are some common orthodontic emergencies we see? Most of these incidents revolve around a part of your braces becoming loose and then subsequently painful. Some of these issues would include a displaced wire or a bracket coming loose from its bonding. These two issues are minor and can be easily fixed by your orthodontist. Sometimes when a bracket comes loose it could fall out of your mouth. This is an extreme situation, and you should try your best to keep the bracket and take it to your next orthodontic appointment. 

Another common emergency is elastics or rubber bands falling off of your braces. These are also minor issues, and as long as you aren’t in severe pain, can be dealt with easily at your next orthodontists appointment.


Handling Emergencies at Home

If you are at home when something happens to your braces or an appliance, your orthodontist’s office is here to help. The good news when something breaks at home is that you can just give us a call and head in for a maintenance appointment as soon as you can. It’s important that you call your orthodontist if something breaks or is causing you pain. If we need to fix something, we need to do it as soon as possible to keep your treatment on track. And, we’re here to help you, we never want you to be in unnecessary pain!

Between the incident and your appointment, you can use orthodontic wax to alleviate any pain the broken part of your braces caused. Over-the-counter painkillers are also good for temporary issues like a cut on your cheek from broken appliances. 


Handling Emergencies while Traveling

If something breaks while you’re far from home, don’t worry it doesn’t mean the end of your vacation. Even though you can’t get to the orthodontist as quickly, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re comfortable and ready to make the most of your travels. There are things that you can quickly include on your packing list to make finding an out of town orthodontist unnecessary. When you aren’t at home it can be expensive and tiring to find an orthodontic specialist to deal with these minor emergencies. 


Wax, a Pencil, and Topical Numbing Cream:

Orthodontic wax is an essential to travel with. Most minor pain and exposed sharp edges can be quickly neutralized by some orthodontic wax. If you run out or happen to forget your wax, most pharmacies carry it, and sugar-free gum works in a pinch. 

If the edge of a loosened wire can’t be contained by orthodontic wax, you can use a pencil with an eraser to push the displaced segment flush with your teeth before placing the wax. If the eraser-and-wax method doesn’t work at all, sterilized nail clippers or a wire cutting tool can be used to clip down the detached wire. Consult your orthodontist before cutting any loose wires, and let a trusted parent or adult do the clipping!

If any sores or painful cuts develop away from home, be sure to pack some over-the-counter topical numbing gel. Orajel or Orabase help to numb the area until you get back home. And, if you forget or don’t have one of these, they’re easily available at most drugstores. 

Though rare, a true orthodontic emergency may occur while you are away. If you are in a level of pain that can’t wait for you to return home, you can contact the local dental society for orthodontic recommendations. Be sure to look at reviews and vet the care before proceeding. As always in a true emergency, call 911.