Orthodontic Emergencies

Whether you’re a brand new braces patient or you’ve been wearing them or awhile, Dr. Jared Lee believes it’s important to be informed about—and feel confident in!—every aspect of the orthodontic process. When you have a bit of knowledge about your braces and the issues that can sometimes arise with them, you tend to be more prepared for any eventuality. 

While most problems that pop up with braces aren’t serious, true orthodontic emergencies do occur from time to time. It’s helpful to know how to proceed if you do experience one of these at any point during treatment! When we talk about a “true orthodontic emergency,” what we are generally referring to is: 

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

If you experience any of these symptoms while undergoing orthodontic treatment with us, we recommend you call our office as soon as you’re able to. You may also want to get in touch with your dentist. That being said, don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care clinic or the emergency room if you feel this is your best option! Some patients are worried that this will somehow interrupt their treatment plan, but we can always pick up where we left off or adjust things once the emergency has passed.

Patients aren’t always sure about what constitutes an orthodontic emergency. You may be wondering how to know if an issue is worth an immediate ER visit, or if it’s a situation where you can simply “wait and see” what happens. A good example of this would be something like a fractured tooth, which would require an immediate diagnosis and treatment. This is also true for any severe pain or swelling around your teeth, jaw, or mouth, since this can be a sign of infection or disease.

Fortunately, these types of emergencies tend to be few and far between! While we encourage you to be prepared for them, there are actually quite a few minor issues that can be remedied from the comfort of your own home. While these home remedies may not always be able to entirely eliminate the pain, discomfort, or irritation you’re experiencing, they can be very effective at lessening your symptoms until we can see you.

Take a look below at some of the most common minor “emergencies” you’re likely to encounter as a braces patient, and learn more about how you can relieve your discomfort without ever leaving the house!

Orthodontic Emergencies

Mouth sores

Some patients just seem to be more susceptible to getting mouth sores than others, and irritation from braces can exacerbate them. If you’re prone to ulcers on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums, 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. 

If the irritation is coming from a loose bracket or pokey wire, you can use a small amount of orthodontic wax to cover that area. Just remember to remove the wax when you brush your teeth, then reapply as needed.

Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires

Speaking of brackets and wires, these can sometimes come loose or break. If this happens, please contact our office as soon as possible so we can help you determine what your next steps should be. While you’re waiting to see Dr. Lee, there are a few things you can do 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. If it’s irritating the inside of your mouth, you can cover the offending part with orthodontic wax. If you notice that a piece has actually broken off, place it in a bag and bring it with you to your appointment.

Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie

As your treatment progresses, your teeth begin to move where we want them to go. During this time, the archwire that connects them may also experience some movement. This can sometimes cause it to poke out a bit near the back of your mouth, irritating the sensitive tissues. This can be remedied relatively easily by moving the wire into a better spot using the eraser end of a pencil or a cotton swab.

If a wire or tie becomes misplaced, you’ll often be able to manipulate it back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. A pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out will help relieve some of the immediate discomfort, but be sure to contact us as soon as you can so Dr. Lee can correct any underlying problems. 

Tooth pain or loose teeth

It may sound a little strange, but we actually want your teeth to loosen slightly during orthodontic treatment. This movement can sometimes cause slight tenderness, however. This is especially true right after you get your braces put on or after an adjustment appointment. A salt water rinse is an excellent home remedy that can be beneficial for braces patients. To 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 a warm heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can also offer you some relief.

Orthodontic Emergencies

In case of an emergency, Dr. Lee is here to help!

True orthodontic emergencies may be rare, but they do happen. If you experience one, we encourage you to contact Dr. Lee as soon as possible. As upsetting as these major incidents can be, we know that even minor emergency situations can leave you feeling shaken. That’s why you can count on our talented team to keep your orthodontic experience as safe, stress-free, and rewarding as possible!

We create beautiful smiles every day for patients of all ages in Oxnard, Santa Paula, and the surrounding areas. Thanks to our skills and expertise, that process doesn’t have to be painful! If you’ve been experiencing any discomfort with your braces, or have concerns about any aspect of your treatment plan, get in touch with us today. We’ve got the tools and technology to get to the bottom of it, and will have you smiling again in no time!