Orthodontic Emergencies

Call 911 or local emergency services if this is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Please do not continue searching our website.

Not all emergencies require immediate attention by an orthodontist. In the majority of cases, problems can be taken care of in the comfort of your own home and then treated with a follow-up by the orthodontist at your next scheduled visit. At this visit, remember to inform the orthodontist of the issue.

At Home Supplies You Can Use:

  • Non-Medicated Orthodontic Relief Wax
  • Dental Floss
  • Sterile Tweezers
  • Sterile Small, Sharp Nail Clippers
  • Q-tips
  • Salt for Gargling with Water
  • Interproximal Brush
  • Toothpicks
  • Orajel or Other Topical Anesthetic

Though orthodontic emergencies are rare, if they do occur we are available to you. If you are experiencing a problem that you cannot take care of yourself, please call our office and we will schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.

Please see below for common problems you can alleviate from home:

General Soreness

When you first get your braces, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater mouthwash can relieve this soreness. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously.

Certain patients have a higher chance of getting mouth sores. While braces do not cause these sores, they may be aggravated by braces. Affected areas may include cheeks, lips or tongue. Although this is not an emergency, it may be very uncomfortable. Try applying a small amount of topical anesthetic, or Orajel, to the surface of the sore using a cotton swab. Reapply as directed by the instructions on the anesthetic or as needed.

If your tenderness is severe, take an over the counter pain reliever in the recommended dosage every four to six hours. Your lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You may use wax on the braces to lessen this, and we'll show you how.

It is common for you to feel a general soreness when you first get your braces or Invisalign. We recommend sticking to a soft diet & rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Simply dissolve one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and rinse vigorously. As a last resort, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a similar pain reliever for headaches. Be aware, Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) slows tooth movement, so try to avoid using these frequently while wearing braces or Invisalign.

Loosening Of Teeth

A feeling of loose teeth is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry–this is normal. Your teeth must loosen first so they can move. Your teeth will become rigidly fixed in their new corrected positions.

Loose Wire Or Band

Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. Please call our office to describe the situation and receive instruction. In the meantime, here are some helpful tips to get you by until the pros can take care of you.

Using a pair of tweezers or needle nosed pliers, try to put the wire back into place. Try using a piece of floss to tie the wire back into place by tying the floss around the bracket. If that doesn’t work, use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened.

If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain.

Poking or Wire Irritations

The end of one of your wires may shift out of place and irritate your mouth. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If you are unable to move the wire into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. If your next visit is coming up soon, this should help you stay comfortable until then

Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of wax. If a wire protrudes, use a blunt instrument (the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and gently push the irritating wire under the arch wire. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place orthodontic wax on the wire to reduce irritation.

If the wire still causes pain, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.

However if the wax does not help and you will not be able to see the orthodontist soon, you may have someone help to clip the wire, as long as he/she is comfortable with the task.

Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

Broken bracket

Call our office immediately! We'll arrange for a repair visit or at least a comfort visit. You can place wax on the broken brace to stabilize it (if it’s still attached to the orthodontic wire) or bring it to us for repair or replacement.

Loose bracket

If your bracket is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it, if needed. If the bracket is no longer attached, place it in a baggie.

The brace may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off of a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day so that we may schedule an appointment for you.

Feel Discomfort

It’s normal to feel discomfort for up to two or three days after braces or retainers are placed or adjusted. If eating is uncomfortable, remember that this is both normal and temporary. Try soft foods until you feel better. Also try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. If the discomfort lasts longer than one week, call the orthodontist.

A Spacer Fell Out

In some cases, a Spacer is used to space out your back teeth before placing on your braces. If this spacer falls out before your next scheduled visit, it is usually not necessary to put it back in until three to five days before your next visit. If it is replaced before this time, it will most likely fall out again. Call the office to inform the orthodontist of what happened and to schedule a quick visit to replace the spacer a few days before your next scheduled visit.

An Elastic Has Fallen Off

Sometimes elastics, or the tiny rubber bands that hold the wire to the bracket, may come off. If you are able to, you can put the elastic back in place using sterile tweezers. Unless you are in pain, it is most likely unnecessary to see the orthodontist until your next visit.

When one elastic falls off or breaks, others may do the same. Examine all elastics and inform the orthodontist if you see any that are broken or missing.

If an elastic is lost, inform the orthodontist, who will advise whether you should be seen before your next scheduled visit.

If an elastic is lost, inform the orthodontist, who will advise whether you should be seen before your next scheduled visit.

Lips Or Cheeks Are Getting Irritated

Sometimes new braces can irritate your mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax may help. Pinch off a small piece of wax, the size of a small pea, and roll it into a ball. Flatten the wax completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. The wax is harmless, so don’t worry if it is accidentally ingested.

Remember that if you clip the wire, the clipped piece must be removed from your mouth to avoid swallowing.

Use a folded tissue or gauze around the area to catch the piece. Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Cover the now-cut part of the wire with relief wax if necessary.

Bracket Feels Loose/Fell Off

Brackets are the parts of braces attached to the center of each tooth with a special adhesive. Sometimes it is okay to wait until your next visit to reposition your bracket. If a bracket has come loose, call the orthodontist to determine whether or not you need to be seen before your next appointment. A bracket can be knocked off if you eat hard or crunchy foods or if your mouth is struck during a sporting activity. Remember to always wear a mouth guard when playing sports.

If the bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and you cannot see the orthodontist right away, you can try to put the bracket back to help with potential discomfort. Always be careful to prevent swallowing of small pieces. To move the bracket back to its original position, use sterile tweezers to slide it along the wire until it is between two teeth. Rotate the bracket to its correct position. Carefully slide the bracket along the wire and back to the center of the tooth