True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they do occur, we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain, break part of your appliance, or have a problem with an appliance that you can’t take care of yourself. Although some discomfort can be expected immediately after an adjustment, you should not have to suffer!
When you call after business hours, you will be directed to an emergency phone number.
You will need to know the names of the parts of your appliances so you are able to accurately identify which is broken, out of place, or causing unusual discomfort.
Other components that you should be aware of
Coil spring — a spring that is placed between orthodontic brackets
Steel tie — a small metal tie that goes around the bracket instead of a color tie
Power Chain — a series of “color ties” that are linked together
You might be surprised to learn that you may temporarily solve many problems by yourself. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions in your treatment plan.
Poking metal wires can usually be tucked back, away against the tooth or under the archwire, and away from the gums and cheek. You can use the end of a tooth brush, the eraser end of a wooden pencil, or a Q-tip. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire, to reduce the annoyance. If you need to cut a wire, use a small fingernail clipper that has been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Be careful not to swallow the small section of wire. Please avoid using pliers that may break appliances, cause harm to teeth or gums, or create greater problems.
Loose bands or brackets
If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it. If you are not due for a visit within a few days, please call for an emergency visit. If you do have an upcoming appointment, it is very important that you call us ahead of time so we can ensure we have extra time to accommodate your emergency.
Lost Separator (Spacer)
Please call our office to see if/when it needs to be replaced.
Loose Color Tie or Stainless Steel Tie
If a color tie or stainless steel tie comes off, call the office to schedule an appointment. Although this is not an emergency, it may need to be replaced.
Problems with an Expander
For any questions relating to an expander, please click here.
Accidents or Trauma
A blow to your teeth can be serious, especially if you can see that a tooth has been moved or the appliances bent. Although lips could be cut, the braces may actually keep a tooth from being knocked out. If you have had facial trauma that has resulted in tears of facial/oral tissues or if teeth have been chipped, broken, loosened or knocked out — urgently call your general or pediatric dentist, as time is critical for knocked out or severely loose teeth.
If your tooth has been knocked out, there is a one-hour window of opportunity to re-implant it with reasonable success. Do not scrub or wipe the tooth off. It can be gently rinsed and then transported in a salt solution (saline), milk, or a pool of saliva (in a cup or retained in the mouth) to keep the tooth moist.
Your family dentist is properly prepared with appropriate anesthetic, reparative materials, appropriate X-rays, etc. to do initial treatment and perhaps re-implant the tooth, splint it, and prescribe appropriate antibiotics and pain relief medications. Alternatively, you may go to your local hospital emergency room, where a dentist or oral surgeon on staff may be able to assist you in a timely fashion.