Be Ready For Anything
You probably won’t experience a true orthodontic emergency because they’re rare.
But, since they do happen from time to time, our Vista patients should know how to handle them.
Here to Help
The following orthodontic emergencies and their treatments are listed in the order from least severe to most severe.
Only the most severe emergencies require immediate attention by Dr. Albaugh.
While this isn’t an emergency, it can be embarrassing or uncomfortable. 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 your braces.
Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber ligature comes off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, remove it with 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 pencil eraser so it doesn’t irritate your lip. Of course, when one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow.
Inspect all of your ligatures. Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention of Dr. Albaugh. If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, tell Dr. Albaugh and he’ll let you know if you need to be seen.
Some people are more susceptible to mouth sores than others. While your braces don’t cause them, they may be made worse by irritation from braces.
One or several patches of sores may appear on the cheeks, lips or tongue. This is not 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.
It’s normal for you to have discomfort for a day or two after braces or retainers are adjusted, but it can make eating uncomfortable.
This discomfort is very normal and only for a short time.
Try eating soft foods and rinse the mouth with warm saltwater.
On occasion, new braces can irritate your mouth. It’s most common to experience this discomfort while you’re eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between the metal and your mouth.
Just 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 causing irritation.
Then, you can eat more comfortably. If you accidentally swallow the wax, it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.
The end of your wire can work itself out of place, irritating your mouth. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it’s 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. Albaugh aware of the problem.
In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome, and you can't see Dr. Albaugh anytime soon, you may, as a last resort, clip the wire.
Reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using 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 any part of your braces come loose, call Dr. Albaugh so he can determine the next steps.
Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They’re 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 the mouth is struck while at play.
We encourage all patients, especially those with braces, to wear a protective mouthguard while playing sports.
An off-center bracket is an indication that the adhesive may have failed. If this is the case, let Dr. Albaugh immediately so he can determine the course of action.
If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and you can't come to our office immediately, you can do a temporary fix to alleviate discomfort and prevent further damage, but take care to prevent swallowing or another injury.
Put the bracket back in place and 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. It’s important to 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 try 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 you may have inhaled it, call Dr. Albaugh immediately.