In the beginning, orthodontic treatment may take some getting used to. It isn’t uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are first put on, some minor aches as teeth begin moving into new positions, or some lip or cheek irritation as you adapt to having something new in your mouth. Yet it’s comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare.
Most orthodontic “emergencies” are minor irritations that can usually be taken care of at home until you can come into our office. The following are some common minor problem that can be addressed at home:
Loose or Poking Archwires
If a wire causes irritation, push the wire away from the area using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-tip. If the wire cannot be tucked away, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax or a cotton ball until you can see us for an adjustment.
If the main wire has come out of the tube on the back tooth, attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers. If the wire is not sticking you, place a piece of wax over the area. As a last resort, if you cannot come into our office, the wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or fingernail clipper close to the back of the last brace.
Loose Brackets or Bands
If a bracket becomes loose, it will usually remain connected to the main wire. Tweezers can be used to reposition the brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. If the bracket or band slides off the back or is no longer connected to the main wire, please save it and bring it with you to your next appointment. Contact our office and inform us of the problem: some loose brackets should be repaired immediately and others can wait until your next scheduled appointment.
If a rubber spacer or separator falls out, call our office so we can arrange to replace it. If it happens a day before your appointment to put on braces or bands, you do not need to do anything.
If a removable retainer cracks or breaks, remove it from your mouth and bring all the pieces to our office for professional repair or replacement.
If a fixed or bonded retainer comes loose from ANY of your teeth or comes loose completely, please let us know. Even though it may still be attached to one or more teeth, the surrounding teeth can move!
Tooth Soreness or Loosening Teeth
It’s normal for teeth to become slightly loose during orthodontic treatment: that shows they’re moving! Sometimes, this movement may be accompanied by tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. Take ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if your teeth are sore after your appointment. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE ANY HISTORY OF ALLERGIC REACTIONS. Rinsing your mouth with a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt can also be soothing.
Minor irritations and canker sores will heal much more quickly if you apply Zylactin or Orabase according to the manufacturer’s directions. You can purchase these products over the counter at most pharmacies and convenience stores.