FOOD CAUGHT BETWEEN TEETH This is not an emergency, but can be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing for the braces- wearing patient. It is 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 teeth and braces.
Handling Orthodontic Emergencies - TOOLS
Orthodontic Emergencies and How to Solve Them
LIGATURES OR “COLORS” COME OFF Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber ligature should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with sterile tweezers. If the wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation.
Of course, when one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow. Be sure to examine all ligatures. Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention of the patient’s parent/ guardian, who should then inform the our office.
If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, notify the parent/ guardian so that the Dr. Laura Pulver may advise whether the patient should be seen.
DISCOMFORT It is normal to have discomfort for a day or two after braces or retainers are adjusted. But it can make eating uncomfortable. The discomfort is both normal and temporary. We encourage eating a diet of soft foods for the first few days and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.
MOUTH SORES Some patients are susceptible to episodes of mouth sores. While braces do not cause them, they may be precipitated or exacerbated by an irritation from braces. One or several areas of ulceration of the cheeks, lips or tongue may appear. This is not an emergency, but may be very uncomfortable. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. Reapply as needed.
IRRITATION OF LIPS OR CHEEKS Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between metal and mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. This will allow you to eat more comfortably. If the wax is accidentally ingested, it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.
PROTRUDING OR “POKEY” WIRE Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your lips or cheeks. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. (See Irritation of Lips or Cheeks above for instructions on applying relief wax.) Please call us if the problem persists.
In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome and you are not be able to make an appointment anytime soon, you may, as a last resort, clip the wire. Reduce the possibility of the swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area. 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.
LOOSE BRACKETS, WIRES OR BANDS If the braces have come loose in any way, notify your parent/guardian if applicable, and then call Parkway Orthodontics to determine appropriate next steps.
Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. The bracket can be knocked off if you have eaten one of those hard or crunchy foods orthodontic patients 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 mouth guard while playing sports.)
If the bracket is sliding on the wire, the adhesive may have failed. We recommend that you immediately notify us, so that we can determine the best course of action.
If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and you cannot immediately come in for an appointment, you can do a temporary fix to alleviate discomfort and prevent further damage. But take care to prevent swallowing or other injury. To put the bracket back in place, use sterile tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth. Rotate the bracket back to the proper position, then slide it back to the center of the tooth.