True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you at any time. As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can't take care of yourself. We'll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem and make you comfortable.
You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to temporarily resolve many problems yourself until you schedule an emergency appointment with our office. If you are able to resolve the problem yourself, alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in unwanted side effects and excessively prolong your overall treatment.
If Your Teeth Are Sore After a Visit
Discomfort during the first 3 to 5 days is common. It’s caused from the new pressure being placed on the teeth and will dissipate within a week or so. Whatever you would normally take for a headache will help considerably – ibuprofen (such as Advil, Motrin) usually works best. If possible, begin the pain reliever before the soreness begins and continue it every few hours (per the manufacturer’s recommendations). After initial placement of braces the lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax/silicone on the braces to lessen this. We'll show you how!
Rinsing 6 to 12 times per day with salt water is the best way to prevent and relieve the general soreness described above. Use warm water and as much salt as you can tolerate.
If Food Becomes Stuck Between Your Teeth
Use dental floss or a proxa brush to dislodge the food.
If a Wire Causes Irritation
Push the wire away from the area using the eraser end of a pencil, handle of a spoon or a cotton swab. Do this looking in a mirror. Poking with a finger without looking almost never helps and sometimes makes things worse.
If the wire cannot be tucked away, cover the end of the wire with a small amount of wax or silicone that we gave you. Both materials are also available at any drugstore. Then give us a call, email us, or leave a message on our message machine to set up an appointment.
If the Main Wire Has Come out of the Brace or Tube
Attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle nose pliers or tweezers. If the wire is poking/stabbing you, place a piece of wax over the area. Then give us a call (or leave a message on our message machine) to set up an appointment.
If You Develop a Sore Spot or a Canker Sore
Cover the source of the irritation with a small amount of wax or silicone we gave you. Both materials are also available at any drugstore. This wax will cushion the irritated area as it heals. Also, to help the irritation heal, rinse with warm salt water. In addition, refer to our "Canker sore" handout we gave you after we first placed your braces. If you misplaced or lost the handout let us know and we'll be happy to email, fax, or send it to you.
If a Bracket Comes Loose from a Tooth
Call our office at your earliest convenience to schedule an emergency visit. Call even if you have an upcoming appointment since repairs of this nature usually take additional time and we want to be sure we have everything ready when you arrive.
If You Notice Small Spaces Developing Between Your Teeth
Don’t panic! This is usually normal and expected as teeth move into different positions, particularly in the early stages of treatment. They will close eventually.
If your Teeth Feel Loose
This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigid and stabilize in their new — corrected — positions.
If a Part of Your Braces or Your Retainer Breaks
Save the pieces and call to set up a repair visit.
If a Separator Comes Out
Separators open spaces between your molars so we can fit bands on them. Refer to our "Separators" handout given at separator insertion appointment and/or contact our office and we’ll let you know whether you need an appointment to have a new separator placed. (See "Separators" section)
If You Experience Trauma to the Mouth
Contact your general dentist immediately. After seeing your family dentist, please call our office so that we can take care of dislodged or displaced teeth, or damage to orthodontic appliances. If you are unable to reach your family dentist, call our office and we will be happy to assist you in the care of the injury. If the office is closed, please follow the instructions on the message machine to reach us via our pager.
If You Have Difficulty with Your Rubber Bands
Refer to our "Elastics" handout and "how to wear" diagram given to you at your last appointment for detailed instructions regarding the rubber band protocol. (See "Elastics" section)
Change your rubber bands after every meal as the elasticity wears out from use. If your supply is low, call the office and we will mail you an additional supply. If you forget to wear your elastics one day, don't double up the next day — just follow your regular instructions. If your elastics break frequently, a wire or band loosens, or a hook breaks off call our office immediately.