First Aid

Orthodontic Emergencies
Most orthodontic emergencies can be remedied at home.  Below is a description of some of the most common orthodontic emergencies and how to treat them.  If you are unable to resolve the problem on your own, please contact our office as soon as possible so someone from our orthodontic team will be able to give you advice on how to solve the problem yourself or schedule you the appropriate appointment so that your braces problem can be fixed.

Sore Teeth
After your wire or Invisalign adjustment it is common to experience some soreness to biting pressure for a few days.  Eating soft foods like mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese or yogurt after an adjustment is better than eating hard or chewy foods.  You may also take Ibuprofen (Advil) following the instructions on the bottle.  Some studies show taking Ibuprofen 1 hour before the appointment reduces discomfort by 50%.

Poking Wire
poking-wire As your teeth shift, the ends of the wire will start poking out the back of the molar tubes and begin irritating the cheeks. This problem may be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area using a cotton swab or pencil eraser. If the wire does not move, cover it with a small pea-sized amount of wax or cotton. You may also try cutting the wire with nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Call the office for an appointment if you cannot resolve the problem.

Loose or Broken Braces
broken-bracesYou may realize that one of your braces or bands is loose. This is can be caused by eating hard or sticky foods, biting on pens or pencils, or getting hit from sports. This is generally not an emergency unless it is associated with pain or discomfort. If the bracket is attached to the wire, leave it in place and cover it with wax as needed for comfort. If the bracket comes out completely, bring it with you to your next appointment. Avoid connecting elastics or a headgear appliance to any loose brackets. Call the office to schedule an appointment to repair the bracket as soon as possible. Be careful not to break too many brackets during your orthodontic treatment. Each broken bracket extends your treatment time and you may even be charged an extra fee if breakage is excessive

Sore Gums
salt-water-rinseIf your gums feel sore or puffy than the likely cause is poor hygiene. Thoroughly brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day; after every meal for best results.  Use a WaterPik for to get hard to reach areas.

Another effective home remedy is to rinse with warm salt water.  Simply mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water, then rinse, swish and spit it out like a mouth rinse. You can repeat this as often as you like.  The salt kills germs and shrinks the swollen gums.


Wire out of slot
wire-out Flexible wires may slip out of the bracket slots of the back teeth. This is usually caused by biting on hard foods. If the wire comes out of the tube, try placing the wire back in the tube using tweezers. If the wire is short you can try to cover the loose wire with wax. If the wire is long and will not go back in the slot, you may try cutting the wire with nail clippers or wire cutting pliers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Call the office to schedule an appointment to repair the wire as soon as possible.

Poking Tie Wire
poking-tie-wire Occasionally, metal wires are used to tie the wire to the braces. Sometimes during eating or brushing, this metal wire tie can accidentally be bent and start to cause irritation to your lips or cheeks. You can try to push the wire back into place by carefully using the end of a pencil eraser. If that is not possible, you can place wax on the area until you can come to the office for us to fix it.

Sores or Ulcers
canker-soreCanker sores are small white areas surrounded by red. The sores may occur after a mouth injury due to dental work, aggressive tooth cleaning, or biting the tongue or cheek. In most cases, the canker sores go away by themselves. If you have a canker sore, you should not eat hot or spicy foods, which can cause pain. The easiest home remedy is to mix one teaspoon Milk of Magnesia and one teaspoon of Benadryl liquid allergy medicine. Swish this mixture in your mouth for about 1 minute, and then spit it out (don’t swallow it). You can do this as often as you like.  

Lost Separator
floss-separator If the separator has been in place for more than 2 days, you can try to replace the separator by threading two pieces of floss through the separator. 
replace-separator Then slightly stretch the separator and floss it between the teeth. If this does not work, call our office to have the separator replaced.

Headgear or Appliance Doesn't Fitheadgear
 If the prescribed headgear does not fit, call the office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to repair the headgear.  Loosing days without the headgear will extend treatment time.