Common Orthodontic Emergencies and What to Do When They Arise

Common Orthodontic Emergencies and What to Do When They Arise

Although a true orthodontic emergency is rare, they can happen, so it is essential to understand what an orthodontic emergency is and what to do if you experience one.

We have provided a list of orthodontic emergencies and their treatments. This information will help identify what emergencies can be handled at home and which ones require a visit to our offices, an urgent care clinic or the ER.

Less Severe Orthodontic Issues You Can Treat at Home

Food Caught in Your Teeth

This is not an emergency, but it is an orthodontic incident that can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. This can be taken care of using dental floss or a dental pick to remove the food between your teeth and braces.

Discomfort After Adjustment

Experiencing pain, a day or two after getting your braces or retainers are adjusted is very common buy it can make activities like eating uncomfortable. This discomfort will last for a short amount of time. You can eat soft foods and rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help ease the discomfort.

Lip or Cheek IrritationCommon Orthodontic Emergencies and What to Do When They Arise

New braces can sometimes irritate inside of your lips and cheeks causing discomfort, especially when eating. To relieve this discomfort, you can use a small amount of non-medicinal dental wax to create a barrier between the metal of your braces and your mouth.

To use this wax, pinch off a small piece, rolling it into the size of a small pea. Flatten out the ball of wax and use it cover over the entire area of the braces that is rubbing against your cheeks or lips, causing irritation.

Mouth Sores

Some people are more susceptible to mouth sores. Braces do not cause them, but they can become more irritated and uncomfortable because of your braces. Sores can appear on your lips, cheeks, or tongue as one sore or in patches of several. Although these may be very uncomfortable, they are not an emergency, and they can be treated with a topical anesthetic such as Ora-Gel.

More Severe Issues that May Require an Orthodontist Visit

Protruding Wire

Every once a while, one of the wires from your braces will work itself loose and stick out, irritating your mouth. To remedy this, you can use a pencil eraser or Q-tip to gently push the wire until it lays flat against your tooth. If you can’t flatten the wire into a more comfortable position, cover it with dental wax. You will also want to let Dr. Gutiérrez know about this issue.

If you can’t visit us for an extended period, as a last resort, you can clip the wire. Be sure to use a tissue or gauze around the area to keep from accidentally swallowing the cut wire.

Loose Wires, Brackets, Bands, or Wires

If any of the parts of your braces become loose, it is essential to contact us to determine what you should do next.

Brackets are attached to your teeth, in the center of each tooth, using a special adhesive. Hard crunchy foods or an injury to mouth during activities such as baseball or soccer can knock these brackets off of your teeth, making it essential to avoid hard, crunchy foods and wear a mouthguard when playing sports.

In some cases, the adhesive could fail, leaving the bracket off center. This is an issue that will require our attention, so it is important to notify us about the problem as soon as possible.

You Have Swallowed a Piece of Your Dental Appliance

This occurrence is rare, but it can be an alarming experience if it does occur. The first step is to remain calm. Signs you may have inhaled the piece into your airways or lungs include:

  • Excessive coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you can see the piece, remove it carefully, but do not attempt removal if it could cause you harm. It is essential to examine your braces for any issues that have resulted from or could be caused by the missing piece such as irritation or loosening of other pieces.

If you think you have inhaled a piece of your dental appliance and you cannot see the piece, contact Gutiérrez Orthodontics immediately to determine the next steps to resolve the issue.

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