Orthodontic emergencies are not typically true emergencies in the normal sense of the word, but some issues can arise while you have your braces on. Below is a list of the common orthodontic issues and guidance on when you should try to get into the office to see the orthodontist or when you can just wait until your next scheduled appointment.
Broken bracket: there are a couple causes of broken brackets. If the bracket has been connected to the tooth for more than 24 hours and broke after that, the most likely cause was biting into something too hard or the bracket was picked at or played with. In any case it needs to be repaired. If your next appointment is more than a week away you should call to have it repaired within a couple days.
Pokey wire: as the teeth move, sometimes the wire can shift out the back of the bracket causing a minor irritation. A vast majority of the time you will have come back in already for your next appointment and the wires are adjusted preventing this issue. When a wire is poking out of a bracket you can place wax on it to prevent it poking your cheeks or gums. If it is a flimsy wire you can attempt to tuck the end of it towards your tooth with the eraser end of a pencil. If either of those solutions does not bring complete relief, you’ll want to call the office and schedule to see the orthodontist on the next business day. Keep wax on it until it is fixed.
The chain or o-ring came off: the colored chain or rings that connect your wires to the braces are very important. If your next appointment is more than a week away and your chain or an o-ring has come off, schedule to have the o-ring or chain replaced before your next appointment. Having them off or broken for too long could actually cause your teeth to move in an undesired direction.
Irritation of lips and/or cheeks: most people will experience some irritation of the lips and/or cheeks when the braces are placed, some people will experience more than others. After a few days or even as long as a couple weeks, your body will adjust and get used to having the braces there and everything will go back to feeling like normal. If the irritation bothers your lips and/or cheeks enough you can place wax on the braces in the area where your cheeks are being irritated while you’re getting used to it. After awhile you will no longer need the wax. If the irritation lasts longer than a couple weeks and is not getting any better, make sure you are using wax over the braces and call to schedule an appointment to have the orthodontist look at it.
Sore teeth: most everyone experiences sore teeth when they first start with braces. For some people the soreness may last a couple of days, for others it might be for a week. Most people are able to get through the initial discomfort by eating soft foods that don’t require too much chewing for a few days. For patients that feel the soreness more than others, you can take an over the counter medication that you would normally take for a headache. The teeth will eventually go back to feeling like normal.
Trauma to the mouth and/or face: Accidents are a part of life. If you happen to get hit in the mouth while you have braces on, notify the orthodontist soon so that the braces can be repaired if needed, and also so that you can be directed to the dentist and/or surgeon if any teeth or supporting structures were damaged as well. Make sure to wear a special mouthguard when participating in sports or other activities where there is a chance of getting hit in the mouth. To learn more about mouthguards with braces click here.