A true orthodontic emergency is very rare. In most cases the issue will be minor and can be managed by yourself at home until you are able to attend an appointment.
We have set out some common problems and some simple temporary solutions below.
It is quite natural to experience some discomfort over the first few days after the placement of your braces. You are likely to experience this discomfort the night your braces are bonded, then for 3 to 7 days after their placement. Since everyone has a different pain threshold, the level of discomfort you may experience could range from some uncomfortable pressure on your teeth to more significant pain. This range is normal and we understand this may not be comfortable for you.
You may also experience pressure or discomfort after your regular adjustments to your braces or orthodontic appliances. Again, this is entirely normal and expected.
The soreness and mobility you are experiencing is caused by your teeth moving through the bone, as well as the pulling of tiny ligaments that hold each tooth in place. Sore teeth and mobility are actually a good sign that progress is being made from an orthodontic perspective. The arch wires placed on your teeth at the start of treatment are very soft and flexible. However they have already begun to do their job by starting to move your teeth. You will feel this through tenderness and soreness when biting and chewing.
We recommend you take the medication that you would normally take for a headache such as Ibuprofen (Nurofen) or Paracetamol (Panadol). A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce any soreness in your jaws.
As this discomfort generally occurs when biting and chewing it is best to eat foods that don’t require much chewing so it is more comfortable for you during this time. For the first few days you may only be able to manage eating soft foods such as rice, pasta, soups, noodles, yoghurt, eggs, ice cream and jelly. You can become more adventurous after a couple of days once the initial pressure on your teeth eases.
Braces are made to be quite smooth and rounded to enhance patient comfort. Even so, the mouth is a sensitive area and it may feel a little irritated in some places until it adjusts to the new addition.
We provide you with some silicone wax to place over areas that are irritated. The key is to thoroughly dry the spot you wish to apply the wax to allow for the best adhesion. The wax can later be peeled off or removed by thorough tooth brushing. Wax should only be required for the first couple of weeks while your mouth adjusts to the braces. It can then be kept for an emergency situation such as a loose wire or similar problem.
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 cotton wool or a small amount of wax. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilised in alcohol
A wire may come loose or detach from a bracket in the early days of treatment. This is rarely an emergency and can often be left until the next appointment. If a wire is irritating your cheeks or gums, dry the area and place a piece of wax on the protruding wire to provide temporary relief.
From time to time, you may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off 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 sterilised in alcohol. Please call our practice the next business day, so that we may assess your situation and provide advice on next steps. If any piece of your appliances comes off, save it and bring it with you to your next appointment.
If you have a bracket which is loose and moving about but still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put some wax on it. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may assess your situation and provide advice on next steps
A small percentage of patients will experience some form of damage to their braces. In an effort to reduce damage to a minimum, the strongest available orthodontic glue is used to fix braces to the teeth. However it is also your responsibility to take adequate care to prevent damage. Certain foods (eg. anything hard or crunchy) or habits (grinding, chewing on pens) will break braces.
Braces do not just fall off – there is generally some force applied to the bracket which causes it to dislodge. Please take care and pay attention to what you eat and how your bite.
Do not stress about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.
If you are not wearing your headgear properly, it may be causing you discomfort. Please refer to your Headgear Instruction Sheet to check you are wearing it correctly. If the discomfort persists, please call our office to discuss.
If you have lost or misplaced your removable retainers, please call our office on the next business day to arrange an appointment for a replacement to be fabricated. This will involve coming in to the practice to have another impression taken and there may be a charge for the replacement retainer.
If your retainers are broken or split but still comfortable, try to continue wearing your retainers until you are able to attend an appointment. It is important that you continue wearing your retainer wherever possible to ensure your orthodontic results are maintained.
If you experience any other type of emergency or trauma to your teeth and appliances, please call our office as soon as possible during business hours.
If you need to report a breakage, loose bracket/wire or other orthodontic emergency, please call our office during business hours – 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday on 9384 6855. Alternatively you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond on the next business day.
Some loose wires or broken brackets are fine to be fixed at your next appointment whilst others may need to be repaired as soon as possible. Please be patient with our staff members when you call – they will ask you several questions to try and understand what has happened, your level of discomfort and the best way to resolve your issue.
Please do not come directly to the practice – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to specifically see you more efficiently.
"Orthodontic emergencies are rare. Most issues can be temporarily resolved until you can come in for an appointment."