What To Do About Broken Braces and Orthodontic Emergencies

Almost everyone will have some type of orthodontic emergency during their time with an appliance; for some, it may be a loose wire causing irritation, while for others, it may be a loose bracket on their braces. Regardless of the cause, you can be sure that your orthodontist will have a solution for you.

Sure enough, you’ll be way better following your orthodontist’s guide to keeping braces in perfect shape, but life happens! Your mouth is a busy place for talking, eating, drinking, playing sports and instruments, etc.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when you need to make an immediate appointment with us to fix an issue and when you can just wait for the next visit. If anything is causing you serious pain or interfering with your ability to eat, for example, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our office right away.

What Are Dental Emergencies

Firstly, we need to know the difference between a dental emergency and an orthodontic emergency. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a dental emergency entails a potentially life-threatening situation that requires immediate intervention to stop bleeding or treat severe pains and infections. Given that dentist’s offices close at night, calling emergency services can be your best chance of stabilizing the situation, and, in cases like a tooth breaking off, getting help quickly can be the difference between saving it or not.

Orthodontic emergencies, on the other hand, tend to be non-life-threatening situations. This kind of issue involves an unwanted intervention in your treatment plan; if not addressed soon enough, it can end up moving your teeth in undesired ways and extend your treatment for even longer.

Usually, a patient will have some type of discomfort caused by either a loose part of the appliance or by the sensitivity in their mouth. Luckily, it can be easily fixed by themselves or the orthodontist depending on the situation. When dealing with an orthodontic emergency, don’t forget to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

What Are Some Common Orthodontic Emergencies?

As stated previously, orthodontic emergencies are not situations that require immediate attention, given that most of the problems that may arise do not represent any kind of potentially serious injury to the patient. Although they can be quite painful and annoying, most of the time, orthodontic emergencies can be solved without having to schedule an emergency appointment.

Patients should learn to remain calm in these situations and try to assess the cause of the problem. This way, they can either fix it on their own or call an orthodontist for them to guide the patient on what to do about the issue. Your dental care specialist will most likely tell you how to fix it from the comfort of your home. Although very few situations require dental intervention to stop the discomfort felt, some may need a follow-up check-up. If it’s necessary to reschedule your next appointment for a sooner date, your orthodontist will let you know.

Here are some of the most common orthodontic emergencies and how to deal with them.

Ligatures Come Off

Ligatures are what attach the archwire to the brackets; this is how tension in your mouth is maintained. They are two types of ligatures, the classic elastic band that comes in various colors and the metal version of it, which is just a wire that attaches to both pieces.

If your elastic ligature comes off, then you may be able to reattach, only do this if you remember how your orthodontist attached them in the first place. If your metal ligature is causing irritation, try to move it around to a better spot with a pencil eraser. You can also use a Q-tip to gently push the ligature back toward the tooth and away from your cheek or gum.

Remember that if a ligature comes off is more than likely that others will follow. If this happens to you or if you lose a ligature entirely, call your orthodontist to know if you need a last-minute appointment or not.

Loose Braces

Like most appliances, braces have quite a few different parts. Whether it is the brackets, the wire, or the ligatures, looseness in your braces can create discomfort and put a pause on your treatment plan. Braces need to maintain pressure on your teeth to move them to their desired location. If you lose pressure, even for a few days, teeth have the chance to go back to their previous placements and revert any progress made.

A common problem, loose or broken brackets, can occur for a number of reasons. If any part of your braces comes loose and falls off, try to put them back in their place with a pair of tweezers. Most of the time, patients can simply leave this alone until their next visit. If you’re experiencing discomfort in the meantime, try some orthodontic wax on the bracket. Regardless of whether there is discomfort or not, when your braces come loose, contact your orthodontist so they can give you proper instructions on what to do next.

Lost Spacer

If the small rubber bands used as spacers come loose, you can usually replace them yourself by stringing two pieces of floss through the spacer and holding the ends of the floss in each hand. Then, wedge the spacer between the teeth and gently remove the floss. If this doesn’t work, call us, and we will replace it for you.

Broken Wire or Poking Wire

Wires can poke into the back of the mouth (if long) or cheeks (if broken). Managing this situation is an easy task with some wax until you can make it into the office to have the wire trimmed or repaired.

Swallowed Appliance

Swallowing a piece of an orthodontic appliance is not a common thing to happen, but it may occur from time to time. If you swallow a piece of your braces and it goes directly to your stomach, there is not too much you can do about it but inform your orthodontist of the situation. It gets more complicated if the patient aspirates the piece, as it can cause difficulties when breathing. If this happens, check if it is possible to extract the piece without damaging the surrounding areas. Always contact your orthodontist immediately if this happens. Don’t forget to check for more loose pieces that the braces may have as a result of losing one.

Get Help From Your Sturbridge Orthodontist

If you are suffering from an orthodontic emergency, contact us as soon as possible so you don’t lose any progress made during your orthodontic treatment so far.