At first, having orthodontic treatment may take a little getting used to and in the beginning you may have questions about what feels “normal”. Commonly, patients will experience some soreness when appliances are first placed, and some minor aches as teeth begin changing positions. It is however comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare.
If you think you may have an emergency, the first step is to determine the severity of the problem. How urgent is the situation, and does it require immediate assistance? Or is it more of a minor problem that you can temporarily handle yourself until you can be seen by your orthodontist.
A Major Emergency
There are only a few true orthodontic (or dental) emergencies and 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, the first place you should start is with your regular dentist. Your general dentist is trained to handle a range of dental problems, and can offer the necessary diagnostic tools, anesthetics and treatments you need.
Some Minor Troubles
Most orthodontic emergencies are not really considered emergencies and are minor compared to the above mentioned situations however, they still can cause discomfort or irritation. In general, you can soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call our office to schedule an appointment to help alleviate the problem. Here are a few examples of common orthodontic problems, along with some tips to help you relieve them at home. At the end of this page there is an informative sheet with pictures to further help.
Loose or broken brackets, bands or wires
This is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as is. If you are supposed to wear elastics avoid doing so until you see your Orthodontist. If your mouth is being irritated, you may cover it with orthodontic relief wax. If the band, wire or bracket has come completely off, please save it and be sure to bring it to your next visit with us. Call our office at any point to schedule an appointment and we will be happy to assist.
Misplaced or poking archwire, bracket or tie
As the teeth begin to move, the wire (archwire) that connects the brackets may begin poking near the back of the mouth and start irritating the cheeks. You can try bending and manipulating the wire into a more comfortable position with a pencil eraser or the tip of a Q-Tip. If the wire does not move, you can also cut the end off with a nail clipper that is first sterilized in alcohol. Before doing so, please call our office for guidance. Sometimes tweezers can also be used to gently move a misplaced wire that is causing problems.
When wires or brackets cause irritation, covering the metal parts with relief wax will often help ease the discomfort. As with any of these types of problems, call our office and we will schedule a time to see you.
General tooth pain or loosening
It is normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment because they are constantly moving. This may cause tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor discomfort, you can use regular over the counter pain reliever. It is also helpful to use a salt water rinse at least twice a day. Warmth also helps to relieve pain. Try placing a warm washcloth or heating pad on the outside of your jaw to soothe your aches.