Like most patients at Jennings Orthodontics, you probably won’t experience a true orthodontic emergency because they don’t happen often. But since they can happen from time to time, Dr. Jennings wants you to know what to do.
Here are some orthodontic problems that may arise during your treatment at Jennings Orthodontics, as well as their remedies.
We’ve listed them in the order from least severe to most severe. Only the most severe emergencies may require immediate attention by Dr. Jennings.
This is not an emergency, but it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing for patients at Jennings Orthodontics. You can fix it easily with a piece of dental floss.
Try tying a small knot in the middle of the floss to help remove the food, or use an interproximal brush or toothpick to dislodge food caught between your teeth and braces.
Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber ligature should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with sterile tweezers.
If your wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, you can bend it back down with a Q-tip or a pencil eraser so it doesn’t irritate your lip. Of course, when one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow.
Be sure to examine all ligatures. Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention of Dr. Jennings. If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, tell Dr. Jennings so she can advise whether you should be seen.
It’s normal to have discomfort for a day or two after your braces or retainers are adjusted at Jennings Orthodontics, but it can make eating uncomfortable.
This discomfort is very normal and only for a short time. Dr. Jennings recommends eating soft foods and rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater.
You may be susceptible to mouth sores. While your braces don’t cause them, braces may aggravate mouth sores.
One or several patches of sores may appear on the cheeks, lips or tongue. This isn’t an emergency, but it may be very uncomfortable for you.
Get quick relief by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the area with sores using a cotton swab.
You can reapply as needed.
Sometimes new braces can irritate your mouth, especially when you're eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between the metal and your mouth.
Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces irritating you.
Then, you can eat more comfortably. If you accidentally swallow the wax, it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.
Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your mouth. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth.
If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. (See Irritated of Lips or Cheeks above for instructions on applying relief wax.) You'll need to make Dr. Jennings aware of the problem.
In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome, and you can't see Dr. Jennings anytime soon, you may, as a last resort, clip the wire. Avoid the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece of wire by placing folded tissue or gauze around the area.
Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Relief wax may still be necessary to provide comfort to the irritated area.
If your braces come loose in any way, call Dr. Jennings to determine the next steps.
Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They are generally positioned in the center of each tooth. The bracket can be knocked off if you've eaten one of those hard or crunchy foods you are instructed to avoid or if you experience an impact to your mouth.
We encourage all Jennings Orthodontics patients, especially those with braces, to wear a protective mouthguard while playing sports.
If the bracket is off-center, the adhesive may have failed. In this instance, it is best to notify Dr. Jennings immediately, who will determine the course of action.
Suppose the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out, and you can't come to our office immediately. In that case, you can do a temporary fix to alleviate discomfort and prevent further damage, but take care to prevent swallowing or another injury.
To put the bracket back in place, use sterile tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth.
- This is rare, but when it does happen, it can be alarming but stay calm.
- If you're coughing excessively or having difficulty breathing, you may have inhaled the piece into your airways or lungs.
- If you can see the piece, you may carefully attempt to remove it.
- DO NOT attempt if you could cause harm.
- If appropriate under the circumstances, examine your braces for problems that may result from the missing piece, such as looseness or irritation, and treat as specified above.
- If you can’t see the piece and believe it may be have been inhaled, call Dr. Jennings immediately.