Wherever you currently find yourself in your orthodontic journey, it’s always helpful – and beneficial – to have a good working knowledge of the minor issues that can sometimes occur when wearing braces. True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but they do happen from time to time, and it’s important to know how to handle them if they do.

We refer to a situation as a true orthodontic emergency:

  • when there is any serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
  • if there is any significant swelling or infection of the gums or mouth
  • when a patient experiences any severe pain or discomfort in the teeth, mouth, face, or neck

If you experience any of these symptoms at any point in your treatment, we recommend you seek help as soon as possible. We suggest starting with our office, but if you feel that you would be better served by an emergency room visit, don’t hesitate to go, and please don’t worry that this will somehow impede your overall treatment time or effectiveness. Your Booth Orthodontics treatment plan can always be adjusted when, if, and as needed once the emergency situation has been resolved.

You might be wondering how you can tell the difference between something worthy of an ER visit and a situation where it’s safe to wait and see what happens after contacting us. A good example of a problem that would require immediate diagnosis and treatment would be something like that are knocked out or moved within the jaws following a blow or hit to the jaws or mouth. Fortunately, these kinds of emergencies are few and far between, and not something you will usually need to worry about. In fact, most orthodontic problems can actually be remedied at home!

Home remedies for minor orthodontic emergencies

Home remedies can be extremely helpful, and while they may not always work to completely remove the source of irritation or pain, they are often able to help resolve minor issues and lessen or eliminate symptoms until we can see you. We’ve listed some of the most common minor orthodontic “emergencies” below to give you an idea of what causes them and what you can do to to alleviate them from the comfort of your own home.

staff member with patient

Mouth sores

Braces themselves don’t cause mouth sores, but some patients still seem to be more susceptible to getting them during orthodontic treatment. These ulcers tend to appear on the cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums, and they can be very uncomfortable. Any irritation from your braces can exacerbate the issue. For immediate relief, you can apply a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the ulcer, using a cotton swab. This can be reapplied as needed.  Remember to use orthodontic wax to cover up any part of your braces are rubbing near the ulcer.  To make healing of the sore quicker rinse 2-3 times per day with a salt water rinse.  Just mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds.

Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires

If any one of the components that make up your braces come loose or break, contact one of our office as soon as you’re able to so they can assess the situation and determine what your next steps should be. In the meantime, there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep both your braces and your mouth safe. If you have a bracket that has broken but is still attached to the wire, don’t connect any elastics to it, and leave it alone until your appointment. If it’s causing any irritation to the inside of your mouth, you can cover it with orthodontic wax for some relief. If the broken piece has actually come off, put it in a bag and bring it with you to your appointment.

Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie

As your teeth adjust to treatment, they begin to make small movements towards the desired positions. When this happens, the archwire that connects them may also move slightly, poking out a bit near the back of the mouth and irritating your cheeks. You can often move this wire into a better position by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab. Misplaced wires and ties can be manipulated back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers. Make sure your hands are clean, too! Orthodontic wax works for wires and brackets that have shifted, too. Cover the parts that are poking out to ease any discomfort, but be sure to get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can fix the actual problem.

Swallowed parts

It’s not necessarily a common occurrence, but it is possible to inhale some of the smaller parts of an orthodontic appliance like braces. If you do accidentally swallow something like a bracket or band, don’t panic! It’s likely it will simply pass through your system without any further incident. However, if you begin to experience any difficulty breathing, please seek emergency medical help immediately.

booth ortho office

Your smile is in the best hands with Booth Orthodontics

Although true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do happen, and it’s important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. But here at Booth Orthodontics, we fully understand that even minor emergency situations can be upsetting! Our team is made up of experienced professionals who are dedicated to making your entire orthodontic experience as comfortable and rewarding as we can. That includes getting you in and out as quickly as possible if a problem does pop up that we need to see you for. Your time is valuable and we respect that by offering convenient office hours and keeping wait times to a minimum. 

The process of creating a straighter, healthier smile doesn’t have to be painful! If you find yourself experiencing any discomfort related to your braces, get in touch with us and we’ll get to the bottom of it. Our skilled staff will correct the problem and have you smiling in again in no time! If you’re in Homer Glen or the surrounding area and want more information on how Booth Orthodontics can give you a beautiful smile, click here or call 708.301.0005 to schedule a FREE consultation today!