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orthodontic emergencies

Dental Emergencies with Braces

Posted on: May 23, 2018

Orthodontic patient with an orthodontist

Getting braces on your teeth is an exciting time of life, as you are working towards a straighter, more beautiful smile. However, with hard work, there are often roadblocks along the way. Many patients find themselves with orthodontic or dental emergencies during their time with braces. Bands and brackets can become loose, wires can get pokey and problems with cavities or gum disease can happen. Find out what to do when orthodontic or dental emergencies like these strike and how to prevent them from happening in the first place!


What Dental Emergencies Are Common?

There are countless dental emergencies each year. Millions of people have them, and most don’t know what to do when they happen. Studies show that many people actually go to the emergency room for their dental emergencies instead of a dentist. However, those patients often get sent to their dentist or orthodontist anyways because they are the professionals that help with dental emergencies. If you ever have a dental emergency, call your dental or orthodontic office immediately to know what to do. If the problem is severe enough (such as a broken jaw), then go to the emergency room.


Dental emergencies that are common in patients include:

  • Severe toothaches
  • Cut or injury to the cheek, lip, tongue or gums
  • A broken tooth
  • A cracked tooth or tooth fracture
  • Knocked-out permanent tooth
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop after a tooth falls out

If any of these dental emergencies happen to you, you want to promptly seek dental help. Some dental emergencies will have to be fixed by a dentist, while others will need the attention of an orthodontist. Luckily, orthodontic emergencies aren’t as severe as dental emergencies in most cases.


Young girl receiving dental care with braces

Dental Emergencies with Braces

You have to discern between dental emergencies and orthodontic emergencies. Problems with broken teeth are generally ones that a dentist will have to deal with. However, if you wear braces, then you will want to call both your dentist and your orthodontist. Some problems may need to be fixed without the bracket or wires on the teeth. For example, if a patient is having severe pain from a toothache, the problem could be tooth decay inside the tooth. A dentist can definitely fix the decay and fill the cavity, but the braces archwire or bracket might be in the way. In this situation, your orthodontist can take off your archwire—and even the bracket in certain instances—to fix the cavity.


If you break, crack, or fracture a tooth, you will need the orthodontist to remove your orthodontic appliance pieces in the area to receive your crown or dental implant. This is not something that happens often unless there is severe decay in a tooth that was fixed before braces. Most patients have a dental appointment before they get braces on their teeth to ensure there is no internal decay that will cause dental emergencies in the near future.


Types of Orthodontic Emergencies

Some orthodontic emergencies that can happen during your 18-24 months include:

  • Tooth Tenderness: The first 2-4 days with braces can leave you with tender teeth. Use over-the-counter pain relievers to help with this pain and warm saltwater rinses, if needed. At every braces adjustment, you may notice soreness for the first 2-4 days that will fade. However, if your tooth tenderness doesn’t go away, seek orthodontic help, especially if the soreness turns into severe pain.
  • Lip and Cheek Sores: Your mouth will have to adjust to braces. You will notice your braces a lot at first, but over time, the feel of them will become normal. The first few weeks is a common time for patients to get lip and cheek sores from brackets and wires. If you notice sores starting to form, use your orthodontic wax and place it on the area of your bracket or wire that is causing irritation. If that irritation persists, call us to adjust the orthodontic appliance.
  • Pokey Wires: Wires can come loose from sticky foods or from picking at your braces. When a wire protrudes, it can cut your gums and the insides of your cheeks, causing them to bleed. At home, try using a Q-tip or clean pencil eraser to push the wire in towards the teeth. This should stop the problem, but also call our office to have the wire adjusted or cut so it doesn’t cut up the inside of your mouth.
  • Loose Bands/Brackets: Brackets and bands can break, especially if you’re eating hard or sticky foods that are prohibited. In general, a broken bracket is not a dental emergency. However, if it causes you significant discomfort, call our office to have it fixed right away. This is especially true if the bracket or band hangs down or interferes with eating.


Young boy receiving dental care with braces

Seeking Help Promptly

Dental emergencies and orthodontic emergencies are never fun. However, there is a big difference between the two. Dental emergencies generally affect your overall oral health and can cause you to actually lose teeth if you don’t seek help. Anytime there is a broken, cracked, fractured, or knocked-out tooth, you want to seek prompt medical help. If you don’t, a dental implant might be your only option for restoring your smile.


Luckily, orthodontic emergencies aren’t quite as serious as dental emergencies. They can cause problems (even sores and cuts) with your teeth and gums, but you generally won’t lose a tooth in those situations. Your time with braces should be a pleasant, comfortable one. If your braces bother you or are painful, always let us know. For questions about orthodontic and dental emergencies, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!


What to Do in Orthodontic Emergencies

Posted on: September 1, 2016

orthodontic emergencies lakewood


Orthodontic emergencies, though rare, do happen. Empowering yourself with “what-to-do-when” knowledge can help you stay calm when you are faced with something unplanned for during your treatment.  Learn what to do with the most common orthodontic emergencies:  mouth soreness, pokey wires, cheek sores, loose bands or brackets, and mouth injuries so you can enjoy your smile transformation process more fully. Dr. Hardy and all of our team at Belmar Orthodontics are here to help support you as you receive your life-changing orthodontic treatment!


My Mouth is Sore!

Creating change takes change so expect that when you first get your braces put on, and after every subsequent adjustment, you will experience some mouth soreness. This is NOT something to worry about! This is normal! What causes it? Your orthodontic appliance, with its archwire and brackets, is designed to shift your teeth with mild pressure.  Your jaw responds to this pressure by shifting your teeth into new positions.  It does this by dissolving bone in the path of the moving tooth and laying down new bone behind it–pretty fascinating stuff! Take comfort in the fact that the more you feel, the closer you are to achieving the changes your bite and teeth need to arrive at their correct positioning. Your new smile is in process!  


How Long Will This Soreness Last?

Most patients experience tooth tenderness and a dull ache for the first 2-4 days following receiving their new braces.  Some tips for making it through these first, challenging days are to:

  • Go for the soft stuff.  Eat soft foods like: scrambled eggs, cooked pasta, shakes, yogurt, pudding, applesauce, mashed potatoes, soft fruits, cooked vegetables and soups.
  • Use Salt-Water Rinses. Salt-water rinses can help you find relief from swelling and soreness. Use ½ teaspoon of salt per cup of warm water.  Try swishing this salt-water rinse several times a day to find pain relief.
  • Incorporate some OTC pain medication. If your pain is causing you severe discomfort, Dr. Hardy can educate you on types of over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can offer some relief. Most patients respond well to Ibuprofen taken every 6-8 hours depending on what pain relief they are needing.
  • Reach for a topical anesthetic. Orabase® or Orajel® can be used for immediate relief.


What Do I Do with Lip and Cheek Sores?

During the initial adjustment period, new braces patients may get small sores on their lips or cheeks.  Each patient experience is different, but within a few weeks, the lips and cheeks will become less sensitive. If your braces irritate any parts of your lip or cheek tissue, place a small piece of wax on the part of your braces that is causing the irritation. Orabase® or Orajel® can be used for immediate relief. If the problem doesn’t cease, give our office a call so we can ascertain if the bracket or wire needs adjustment.


If You Have Loose Bands and Brackets

Brackets and bands can break when patients eat certain prohibited foods or pick at their braces causing some common orthodontic emergencies.  Avoid these orthodontic emergencies by familiarizing yourself with the steps for caring for your braces.  If a band or bracket comes loose and is uncomfortable, place a piece of wax over the spot causing the discomfort. In general, broken brackets are not orthodontic emergencies and can be fixed at your next scheduled appointment. There are certain scenarios that would necessitate being seen sooner:  1) If the broken bracket causes significant discomfort; 2) if the broken bracket is supposed to hold a rubber band in place; and/or 3) if a bracket breaks on one of the upper or lower 4 front teeth. If any of these scenarios exist, please call the office and we will schedule an appointment as soon as possible to address your orthodontic emergencies.


Help for Pokey Wires

Wires can come loose from sticky foods or when a patient picks at the braces causing orthodontic emergencies. If you notice a wire is protruding and causing discomfort, try using a Q-tip or clean pencil eraser to push the wire in towards the teeth to relieve the discomfort. Placing wax on the spot causing irritation may also allow the cheek to heal and toughen up. If you continue to have issues, please contact our office and we will help you remedy the situation. To help avoid accidental damage, patients should also avoid biting their fingernails, pens or pencils.


Problems with Elastic Ties

If you notice a loose or missing elastic tie that goes around a bracket, don’t worry. These elastic ties can be fixed or replaced during your next appointment.


Mouth Accidents or Injuries

If you experience a bump or trauma to the mouth during orthodontic treatment that has injured/hit your teeth, please call the office right away.  A short examination will ensure that no damage has been done.


Call for an Orthodontic Emergencies Consultation

Life with braces brings exciting changes, and sometimes some challenging adjustments too, but the end result is a healthier you!  Belmar Orthodontics can help you obtain a healthy, functional, attractive smile. Our online patient education can help answer any questions you may have, and our friendly staff is always available to help.  Call 303.225.9016 today to learn more about braces or to schedule an appointment.  Dr. Hardy is committed to your care and will help you reach your smile goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.