If you have braces, you probably already know it takes some time to get used to wearing them or wearing other appliances that are associated with orthodontic treatment, such as retainers. Some patients find they experience bouts of tenderness or minor aches when their teeth start to move into proper alignment — or after an appointment where braces are adjusted.
Typically, wearing braces is pretty simple. But there are a few common orthodontic emergencies that occasionally occur among the patient population, so we want you to know how best to deal with them.
For simplicity, we’ll divide these into two categories: Major and minor orthodontic emergencies.
What is a Major Orthodontic Emergency?
Whether you have braces or not, up to half of all children end up with some kind of injury to their teeth during childhood. Typically, these are the result of sports injuries, falls, fights, or other types of accidents. Some of the most common injuries seen are:
- Dislodged or misplaced teeth
- Broken teeth
- Fracture of a tooth’s root
- Broken jaw
If you experience a major impact to your jaw, mouth, or even your face and head you should seek medical help right away. If your face is impacted, there is a good chance your orthodontic treatment will need to be adjusted or even replaced. After you are seen by a medical professional to be sure that you don’t have a concussion or other lasting injury, you should see a dentist or orthodontist immediately to ascertain what impact your injury has had on your teeth and your orthodontic treatment.
How to Prevent Major Orthodontic Emergencies
While there is no guarantee that you can avoid all accidents, there are certain things you can do to at least make them less likely to occur.
Wearing an ADA-approved mouthguard when playing sports or engaging in vigorous outdoor activities is a must, as is wearing protective headgear such as bicycle and motorcycle helmets. Wearing a safety belt while riding in a car can help protect your head from impact should an accident occur.
What is a Minor Orthodontic Emergency?
Minor orthodontic emergencies are relatively common. Here are some of the most typical:
Wire Poking Your Mouth
Sometimes a wire from your braces will wiggle loose and begin poking you in the cheek or gums. It might not be life-threatening, but it definitely can be irritating and inconvenient. To fix the issue, you can move the wire using a cotton swab or a pair of tweezers. If you have a willing adult nearby, you can sterilize a pair of nail clippers and clip the wire off to prevent further injury.
Then, use a tiny bit of orthodontic wax to cover the wire and prevent it from poking you any further. On your next trip to the orthodontist, their staff can permanently fix the wire.
Loose Wires, Brackets, or Bands
Sometimes you may forget you have braces on and indulge in some sticky candy or hard foods that can play havoc with your orthodontics — dislodging wires, brackets, or elastic bands. If your bracket or band is still attached, leave it where it is and cover it with wax if it is bothering you. Make an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible to get the problem corrected.
Some soreness and discomfort are to be expected after first getting your braces and at various times throughout the treatment lifecycle. When teeth start to realign, there is often some tenderness and soreness to deal with. You can use a dental gel to relieve local pain, over-the-counter pain relievers in an appropriate dosage for general pain, and even a saltwater rinse and a heating pad on your jaw if you are still struggling to control the discomfort.
Don’t forget to talk to your orthodontist about any pain you may be experiencing at your next appointment, just to be sure there is no other issue at play.
How to Prevent Minor Orthodontic Emergencies
The best way to prevent minor orthodontic emergencies is to follow all the instructions your orthodontist gives you. Properly caring for your teeth and appliances, avoiding certain foods, and practicing general safety can all help maintain your orthodontia in good working order.
For extra safety, it’s a good idea to carry an orthodontics first-aid kit with you wherever you go to ensure you are prepared for any small emergencies that might crop up. Orthodontic wax, extra bands, a mirror, tweezers, and nail clippers along with your orthodontist’s phone number will help you temporarily fix any small problems until you can get an appointment.
Having An Orthodontic Emergency in Carson?
If you are one of our Carson patients, don’t hesitate to contact our office any time you have a question about how to handle an orthodontic emergency. At Orthodontist of Carson, we care about the health and well-being of all our patients and want to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible — and that your treatment goes smoothly.
If you’re in Carson and you are thinking about getting braces, feel free to make an appointment with us for a consultation. Whether you are an adult looking to get a more beautiful smile or a parent with a child whose teeth need realignment, our team of orthodontic professionals is here to help.