Orthodontic Emergencies

Whether you just got your braces put on, or you’ve already been wearing them for a while, David Ross Orthodontics wants you to be informed about some of the issues that can occur when undergoing orthodontic treatment. It’s important to us that all of our patients feel informed about – and confident in! – all aspects of the treatment process. While true orthodontic emergencies may be rare, they do occur occasionally. We find it’s helpful for our braces patients to know how to proceed in the event of any of the following orthodontic emergencies:

  • serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
  • swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
  • severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms while undergoing orthodontic treatment, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible. If you’re a current patient, you can start with our Hanover office or your general dentist, but don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care clinic or the local emergency room if you feel that’s your best option. Some patients worry that their orthodontic process will be interrupted or delayed by emergency treatment, but we can always pick up where we left off or adjust your customized plan once the emergency has passed.

If you’re unsure about what constitutes an emergency, you’re not alone! Many patients want to know the criteria for a problem requiring an immediate ER visit versus a “wait and see” scenario. One good example of this would be a fractured tooth. This would require immediate diagnosis and treatment, as would any severe pain or swelling around your teeth, jaw, or mouth, since this can be a sign of infection or disease.

Thankfully, these types of emergencies tend to be few and far between! Having a plan in place in the event of an emergency occurring is always recommended, but quite a few minor issues can be remedied from the comfort of home. Though they may not be able to eliminate all the pain, discomfort, or irritation you’re experiencing, home remedies are often very efficient at lessening or relieving symptoms until we can get you into the office.

David Ross staff working with a patient

Treating non-emergency issues at home

We’ve listed some of the most common minor “emergencies” or sources of discomfort below, as well as what you can do about them from home, so keep reading for more information!

Mouth sores

Although orthodontic treatment doesn’t cause mouth sores, some patients seem to be more susceptible to getting mouth sores while straightening their smile. Irritation from braces can often exacerbate these painful ulcers. If you’re struggling with mouth sores on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums while you’re in braces, you can get some relief by swabbing a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the sore. This can be reapplied as needed, following the instructions included with the packaging.

Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires

If any part of your braces comes loose or breaks, we ask that you contact our office as soon as possible so we can determine what your next steps should be. While you’re waiting for an appointment with us, there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep your braces and your mouth safe.

If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, try to leave it alone until you can be seen, and don’t connect any elastics to it. You can use orthodontic wax to cover any components that are causing irritation, removing it when you brush your teeth, then reapply as needed. If a piece of your braces has actually broken off, please place it in a bag and bring it with you to your appointment.

Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie

As your orthodontic treatment progresses, and your teeth begin to move where we want them to, the archwire that connects them may also shift. This can sometimes result in it poking out a bit near the back of your mouth, irritating your cheeks or gums. This can be remedied relatively easily by moving the wire into a better spot using the eraser end of the pencil or a clean cotton swab.

If wires or ties move, they can often be manipulated back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. For wires or brackets that have shifted and are now irritating your mouth, try a pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out to help relieve the immediate discomfort. Be sure to contact us as soon as you can so Dr. Ross can determine what’s actually happening and correct it.

Tooth pain or loosening

Teeth can loosen slightly during orthodontic treatment, and while that may be disconcerting, it’s exactly what we want them to do! That being said, this movement can sometimes cause some slight tenderness. This may be particularly pronounced right after your braces are put on, or following an adjustment appointment. Salt water rinses are a tried-and-true home remedy that can help relieve soreness. Simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can offer some relief as well.

David Ross staff checking out a patient

David Ross Orthodontics is here to help

If you experience an orthodontic emergency, you should seek treatment from an experienced and qualified orthodontist like Dr. Ross as soon as possible. But even minor emergency situations can be upsetting to patients, and that’s why our team is dedicated to keeping your orthodontic experience as safe, stress-free, and positive as possible. We’re in the business of creating beautiful smiles for patients of all ages daily, and we know that the process doesn’t have to be painful. If you’re experiencing any discomfort with your braces, or have had trouble with any other aspect of your orthodontic treatment, get in touch with our Hanover office today. We’ll work hard to get to the bottom of whatever the problem is so we can have you smiling again in no time!