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Orthodontic Emergencies

Teen girl with gorgeous smileOrthodontic emergencies always happen when they are least expected—that’s what makes them emergencies! They can happen to children and adults alike, and the end result is usually a lot of oral pain mixed with worry.

Fortunately, if you find yourself in the middle of an orthodontic emergency, Wigal Orthodontics is here to help. Dr. Timothy Wigal and our team will try out best to keep you comfortable and provide immediate assistance over the phone if you can’t get to us right away. If you are experiencing an emergency, please contact our office that is closest to you as soon as you can; we’ll be ready to help.

Preteen girl with braces

How Can I Avoid an Orthodontic Emergency?

The only way to definitively avoid an orthodontic emergency is to never leave your house or eat, so that obviously isn’t an option! Luckily, there are many simpler things you can do to minimize you or your child’s chances of experiencing an emergency.

Foods that are sticky, chewy, or extremely hard should be avoided during orthodontic treatment. One misplaced bite can easily damage brackets or warp wires.

It’s also a great idea to protect braces with an athletic mouthguard when participating in sports (whether they are contact or not). An unseen collision can easily knock a bracket loose or force the lips into them, which needless to say, can be extremely uncomfortable. As always, you should be diligent about brushing and flossing your teeth, and this is especially important if you have any kind of orthodontic appliance. Braces and Invisalign trays can trap food particles against the teeth, making you more likely to develop tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. These conditions can derail your treatment if allowed, so keep them at bay by maintaining a consistent home routine.

Young woman with healthy beautiful smile

How To Take Care of Your Braces/Retainers at Home

As we just mentioned, the best thing you can do to take care of your orthodontic treatment is brush and floss consistently. Of course, there are a couple of special considerations to keep in mind if you have braces.

In addition to cleaning your teeth, be sure to clean the brackets and wires with your brush as well. Food can become stuck on them which can easily damage your teeth over time. When it comes to flossing, you will probably need to use a small appliance to thread the floss through the braces. Fortunately, you can easily find them at your local drug store, and Dr. Wigal can show you how to properly use them if you need a little help.

After braces have come off, you need to take care of your retainer as well! All you need to do is soak it in a denture cleanser once a day to eliminate any food debris. After doing this, be sure to rinse it with water before putting it back into your mouth (you won’t make that mistake more than once!).

Woman with gorgeous smile

Tips for Common Orthodontic Emergencies

Emergencies with braces are rare, fortunately. However, there is still a small chance that you might experience a problem with your braces. These situations aren’t fun, but they’re often not as serious as the stress you might feel in the moment. Some orthodontic emergencies may require immediate attention from Dr. Wigal or a physician, while others are not as urgent.

Here’s what to do in the most common orthodontic emergencies. For more information, you can reference the American Association of Orthodontists’ emergency guide at the bottom of this page.


Loose Bands

Bands, the rings around your back teeth, may come loose. This isn’t an immediate problem, and you’re not in any extreme risk. Schedule an appointment with our office within one or two weeks and let them know that your band has come loose. Without treatment, your tooth enamel may be damaged, so don’t wait too long to address it!

Trapped Food or Debris

This happens all the time with braces and shouldn’t be a big concern. Simply use your toothbrush or special floss to remove the food item. If you can’t, be sure to give us a call.

Damaged or Lost Elastic Band

Small elastic bands (or ligatures) are how we keep the wire attached to your brackets. If one of them becomes damaged or falls out, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. You can initially try to do it yourself using a pair of tweezers. However, if you seem to be losing bands regularly and can’t figure out why, be sure to contact us so we can help you determine the cause.

Pain or Discomfort

It is perfectly normal for the teeth and gums to feel a bit tender or sore after having braces put on or adjusted. This just means they are working and your teeth are adapting to their new position. This should abate after a few days. However, if the pain is overly intense or lasts for more than a week, please contact us as soon as you can so we can help.

Mouth Sores

In some cases, braces may irritate the tissues in your mouth and cause small sores. Using wax can help alleviate the pain, but consider this: allowing your mouth to build callouses will largely stop that discomfort for the entire course of your treatment.

Use topical oral anesthetics to dull the temporary pain, and you can allow a callous to form.

Forgoing the use of wax in order to allow callouses to form more quickly is a personal decision, so be sure to ask Dr. Wigal for advice.

Loose/Poking Wires

If you’ve just gotten braces, wires may begin to poke out of the back near your molars. This can be uncomfortable, and fortunately, it can usually be addressed at home. Use the wax given to you by Dr. Wigal to cover the protruding wire. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you might schedule an appointment with us to have the wire clipped for greater comfort.

Broken Braces/ Loose Brackets

Breaking your braces might be quite alarming, but in most cases, it’s not an urgent problem.

Call Dr. Wigal immediately for advice, though. In the event of loose braces or brackets, your orthodontist will likely advise you to come in for a fix at your earliest convenience.

Swallowed Braces or Pieces

It’s rare that braces break in such a way that the pieces can be swallowed. If this does occur though, contact Dr. Wigal and a physician immediately. Usually, the small pieces of appliances like rubber bands will pass through your system easily. There is a higher risk involved, though, so follow your doctor’s advice.

Loose Expanders

Rapid maxillary expanders are used to widen the upper jaw or upper teeth in some patients.

Should yours become loose, contact your orthodontist promptly. Aside from the discomfort involved with a loose expander, your orthodontist will need to correct this problem quickly so that the progress you’ve already made isn’t lost.

Facial Trauma

If you have an accident where your braces are severely damaged, please contact us as soon as you can, and we’ll try to see you as quickly as possible to repair your appliance and relieve your pain. If you have other injuries, such as broken bones or you are bleeding profusely, please head to your local emergency room first.

In all of these situations, the key thing to remember is to call Dr. Wigal as soon as you have a problem, and be sure to follow his advice to keep your treatment on track!

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