Here to Help
True orthodontic emergencies are rare but when they do happen, we’re available to help. If you’re experiencing severe pain or have a painful issue regarding your appliance, contact our office right away. We’ll be able to determine if you should come in for an emergency appointment.
Be Ready For Anything
You might be surprised to learn that you can safely treat many orthodontic emergencies safely at home until the next time you can come into the office. 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. Babaan.
This isn’t an emergency, but it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing. It’s easily fixed 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.
You may experience some discomfort if you do not wear your headgear as instructed by Dr. Babaan. Please refer to the instructions given to you by our office and follow them closely to prevent any unnecessary risks.
If the facebow (the metal piece of your appliance) is bent, please notify our office so that we can assist you. Your headgear will hurt less the more it’s worn, so be sure to wear it for the prescribed number of hours.
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 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 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 your ligatures. Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention of Dr. Babaan. If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, tell Dr. Babaan so he can advise whether you should be seen.
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 limiting your diet to soft foods during this time. You may also dissolve one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth with this solution for 30-45 seconds.
If you experience a headache, you may take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for some relief. We do not recommend taking Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), or Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) as these may slow the movement of the teeth.
You may be susceptible to mouth sores. 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.
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 piece of wax and roll it into a small ball. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation.
This will allow you to 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’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. Babaan aware of the problem.
In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome, and you can't see Dr. Babaan anytime soon, you may very carefully clip the wire, but only as a last resort. 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.
Reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area.
If your braces come loose in any way, call Dr. Babaan to 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 may 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.
If the bracket is off-center, the adhesive may have failed. In this instance, it’s best to immediately notify Dr. Babaan, who will then determine your best 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.
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. 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 to remove it 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. Babaan immediately.