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What to Do in Orthodontic Emergencies

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.