How to Handle Orthodontic Emergencies
How Can I Recognize Orthodontic Emergencies?
Orthodontic treatment can cause some discomfort. A certain degree of soreness is normal and should not be considered an orthodontic emergency. Some of the normal discomforts and likely problems associated with orthodontic treatment include:
- Soreness for the first few days after a patient first starts wearing braces. Eating only soft foods, such as pasta, jello, mashed potatoes, and applesauce can help with your initial soreness. This discomfort should improve within a few days and is not an orthodontic emergency.
- Getting food stuck in your braces. As you begin to get used to eating with braces you may notice that sometimes a piece of food can get caught between your braces and your teeth. There’s no need to panic. Usually, the food can be dislodged with careful flossing or by using a toothpick or interproximal brush.
- Lip or inner mouth irritation. When the delicate interior or your mouth is first adjusting to your braces some irritation is normal. You can obtain a dental wax to put over the most uncomfortable portions of your braces. Wet cotton balls may also help. If you continue to have soreness or discomfort for longer than a few days, it may be time to speak to your orthodontist and see if your braces need an adjustment.
- Losing Elastic Bands. The elastic bands, called ligatures, that hold your wires to your braces brackets can sometimes pop loose. If they do, simply try to put them back into their proper position with sterilized tweezers. If this doesn’t work, you may need to come into the orthodontist’s office to have them put back on.
- Loose braces wires. If your archwire comes loose on your braces it may start to irritate the inside of your mouth. In this case, you can try to gently push it back into place using something like a cotton swab that won’t hurt your gums. If you’re having trouble getting the archwire back into place you may want to call the orthodontist to see if you need to come into the office for a new archwire or an adjustment to your existing archwire.
- Lost or broken brackets. Though it may seem rather alarming to lose a bracket, it isn’t necessarily an emergency. Simply contact the orthodontist and notify them of the situation. If the site of the loose bracket is causing discomfort, you can put relief wax over it. It can be repaired at your next appointment.
Though all the above situations are inconvenient, they often don’t require help from an emergency orthodontist. They can be handled either at home or at a follow-up visit. If you have concerns about any of the above scenarios, you can call the orthodontist’s office for reassurance and advice.
When to Contact an Emergency Orthodontist
A true orthodontic emergency would normally involve an accident that causes trauma to your teeth. If you’re involved in an accident where your teeth have been chipped, loosened, or cracked, it’s important to seek emergency care. To avoid most emergencies, following the diet instructions is strongly advised. Call us right away to make an appointment to have your teeth examined if your teeth have been damaged in an accident.
Thankfully, orthodontic emergencies are rare. If you have experienced a problem with your braces or your teeth that you think may require attention from an emergency orthodontist, feel free to call us and we can let you know whether or not you’ll need to come into the office for care. After making sure you are comfortable, we will then schedule to repair or adjust if needed. In case of an emergency, our office is open to schedule orthodontic emergencies on Thursdays each week.