Orthodontic Emergencies

If you’re undergoing or have undergone orthodontic treatment, you know that it takes some time to get used to braces or Invisalign. Most patients are likely to experience soreness and minor aches, especially as the teeth begin to move and shift into an ideal alignment.

The good news is that orthodontic emergencies are generally rare and minor, but it never hurts to know what to do in the event that you’re left dealing with an orthodontic emergency. Here are fixes you’ll want to know about, just in case!

Did you know that almost 50% of children suffer from some sort of dental injury? Most tooth and mouth injuries are caused by a sports injury, fall, or some other type of accident. While children are more likely to suffer from a dental emergency, adults are also at risk. Some of the most common dental and mouth injuries include:

  • Broken tooth
  • Broken jaw
  • Dislodged or misplaced tooth
  • Root fracture

If you experience a major dental, jaw, or mouth injury, it’s critical to seek medical assistance immediately. A serious dental emergency could cause severe pain and tooth loss.

In dealing with this type of emergency, chances are your orthodontic treatment will be impacted. If you’ve lost a tooth or broken a jaw, your teeth will inevitably shift out of place. It’s important to also schedule an appointment with a local orthodontist who can determine if your orthodontic appliance needs to be adjusted or replaced.

Preventing Major Orthodontic Emergencies

One fact of life is that accidents happen. No matter how careful you are, there’s always the risk of tripping or falling. While some things in life can’t be avoided, there are things you can do to protect your teeth on a daily basis.

For example, if you or your child plays sports, wearing proper protective headgear is a must. It’s also important to wear an ADA-approved mouth guard that properly protects the teeth, mouth, lips, tongue, and gums.

Other everyday tips include wearing a seatbelt when in a vehicle and following your orthodontist’s instructions for proper wear and care of your orthodontic appliance.

Minor Orthodontic Emergencies

While major orthodontic emergencies do happen, you’re more likely to deal with minor issues with your orthodontic appliance. Here are minor (and common!) issues that you may face, as well as what you can do to remedy the problem.

Poking Wires

If you recently had braces or some other orthodontic appliance attached to your teeth, chances are you’re already a little sore and frustrated with the new feeling in your mouth. When you’re already dealing with these issues, there’s nothing worse than waking up to find that you’re being poked in the mouth by a loose wire!

Thankfully, you can temporarily resolve the issue by moving the wire using tweezers or a cotton swab. You could even sterilize a pair of nail clippers and then have a family member clip down the wire to prevent it from poking.

To alleviate further poking, cover the wire with a small ball of orthodontic wax. During your next trip to the orthodontist, be sure to discuss the wire issue so that you can get a permanent fix.

Loose Bracket, Wire, Or Elastic Band

Loose brackets, wire, and elastic bands are often issues caused by eating sticky or hard food like candy. The issue can also be caused by playing with your braces or brushing too vigorously.

If the bracket or band is still attached to the wire, leave them as is. To prevent discomfort, cover the problematic area using orthodontic wax.

Broken Retainer

The sound of a crushed retainer is one that will stick with you! Once you’re over the shock of having crushed your retainer, the first thing you want to do is to examine it.

If the appliance isn’t in pieces, put it on your teeth and see how it fits. In the best-case scenario, you didn’t break the retainer but instead bent it out of shape. If the retainer is extremely loose, you’ll want to find an orthodontist to get a new retainer.

If you’re unable to schedule an appointment immediately with an orthodontist, your next best bet is to purchase an over-the-counter mouthguard to protect your teeth. You may also find a temporary retainer that you can wear until your appointment.

General Soreness

While you’re likely to experience discomfort and general tooth pain after having an orthodontic appliance placed on your teeth, you may also experience pain throughout the length of your treatment. Though frustrating to deal with, soreness is a sign that your teeth are shifting!

When your teeth start to move, they often cause discomfort and overall tenderness in your mouth. For general dental pain, use over-the-counter pain relievers. You may also use a dental gel to help minimize localized pain.

Other tips to minimize discomfort include rinsing with salt water and using a heating pad on the jaw.

Loose Orthodontic Appliance

As your teeth begin to shift, it isn’t uncommon for your orthodontic appliance to loosen or for your headgear to not fit as it once did. While a loose appliance can be a nuisance, you can be somewhat positive in knowing that your teeth are getting straighter!

Since appliances need to fit snuggly in order to do their job, you’ll want to seek orthodontic care to have your appliance adjusted. While adjustments can cause minor pain and discomfort, they’re a must if you want your teeth to fully shift into their ideal positions.

Preventing Minor Orthodontic Issues

To minimize and even prevent minor orthodontic issues, one of the best things you can do is to follow all instructions that were given to you for properly wearing and taking care of your appliance. It’s also important to brush your teeth on a daily basis and avoid eating sticky or hard foods that may cause your appliance to become loose or cause general soreness.

It’s also a good idea to create a mini orthodontics care kit that you can carry with you. Your kit should include sterilized nail clippers, orthodontic wax, a mouth mirror, extra elastic bands, and your orthodontist’s contact care. This way, if you’re away from home, you can apply a quick fix until you can visit your orthodontist.