At first, having orthodontic treatment may take a little getting used to. It isn’t uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are first put on, or some minor aches as teeth begin moving into new positions. Yet it’s comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare.

If you think you may have an emergency, however, the first step is to determine the severity of the problem: Is it an urgent situation that requires immediate attention, or a minor problem that you can take care of yourself, temporarily, until you can come into our office?

A Major Emergency

There are only a few true orthodontic (or dental) emergencies. They include:

  • Trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth
  • Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face
  • Severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas

In any of these situations, you should seek help as soon as possible — go to an emergency room, if that’s your best option. Generally, however, the place to start is with your regular dentist. Remember that he or she is trained to handle a range of dental problems, and can most likely offer the necessary diagnostic tools, anesthetics, and treatments you need. If for example, you have a fractured tooth, your dentist will treat the immediate problem and arrange for the tooth’s restoration; afterward, your orthodontic treatment plan can be adjusted as needed. Likewise, severe pain or swelling could be a sign of infection or disease, which a dentist or period

Some Minor Troubles

Fortunately, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are minor compared to these situations — but they may still cause discomfort or irritation. In general, it’s best to try and soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call our office to schedule an appointment; that way, we can allot sufficient time to take care of you. Here are a few of the more common orthodontic problems, along with some tips on what you can do to relieve them at home:

Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but please call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.

Sore Teeth/Discomfort with Orthodontic Treatment

Right after you get your braces, and sometimes after you have an adjustment appointment, your teeth and mouth will feel sore. To alleviate the pain, you may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. You can also gargle lukewarm saltwater, which is a mixture of one teaspoon of salt dissolved in eight ounces of water. A warm wash cloth or a heating pad may also reduce the soreness in your jaws.

Wire Irritations

Try 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 or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol.

Loose Bracket

First, call our office to see if the bracket needs to be re-fitted. If you have a situation where you must cut the wire or slide a bracket off the wire, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day to schedule a repair appointment.

Loose Wire

Try putting the wire back in place using tweezers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If that does not work, try putting wax over the wire where it is poking you. If you have a situation where you must cut the wire, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Cut the wire behind the last bracket in which it is secured.

Headgear Doesn’t Fit

If your headgear is causing pain, it’s usually because it isn’t being worn long enough. Please adhere to your orthodontist’s instructions, and wear your headgear for the instructed amount of hours each day. If the facebow is bent, please call our office for an appointment. Do not try to adjust it yourself.