Emergency Care

True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can't take care of yourself. We'll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office.  Please remember that if there is a loose piece that you can remove, put it in a plastic bag or envelope and bring it with you to your next appointment.

After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.

Types of Problems

SORES - When you first get braces or an appliance, you may have sore spots develop. You can put wax on the bracket or wire that is rubbing your cheek until it heals. Your mouth will toughen up after a short while. We also recommend rinsing 4 times a day with Peroxyl rinse or a warm salt water solution.

SORENESS - Your Teeth Hurt - Rinse the mouth with warm salt water. Try a pain reliever that you would use for a headache or similar discomfort. Soreness can be expected for 3 to 5 days after a wire adjustment.

POKEY WIRES - Occasionally, metal wires are used to tie the archwire to the brackets or bands. Sometimes during eating or brushing, this metal wire tie can accidentally be redirected and start to cause irritation to your lips or cheeks. You can try to push the poky wire back into place by using the end of a pencil eraser. You can also use this trick for long wires in the back to help tuck them behind your bracket for comfort. If that is not possible, you can place wax on the area causing the irritation until you can be seen by your orthodontist to have it fixed.

If the wax does not stay, you may try to push the poking wire with the end of a pencil eraser to tuck it behind the main arch wire and make it more comfortable for your lips and cheeks.  Only do this for the softer, thinner wires that can be bent around; some thicker wires will not allow you to push them or bend them around.

During treatment, flexible wires may slip out of the bracket slots of the back teeth. This may be avoided by eating the appropriate foods your orthodontist recommends. If the wire comes out of the tube, try placing the wire back in the tube using tweezers. If necessary, cover the loose wire with wax and call the office for an appointment.


PROBLEM: Hooks on molar bracket poking.

SOLUTION: Apply wax over the hook. Warm salt water rinses 2-3X/day.


PROBLEM: Broken lace poking lips.

SOLUTION: Tuck the poking part away from the lip if lace is under the wire. If lace is on top of the wire remove the broken lace.

LOOSE BRACKET OR BAND - A broken bracket can occur for several reasons including eating foods that are very hard. Such foods are bagels, pizza crust, and apples. Special caution should be used with braces; apples should be sliced, bagels should be fresh. This usually does not require an "emergency" office visit, but please call and inform us. Most times it is not necessary to come into the office for immediate repair. If there were any discomfort we would want to see the patient. Certainly, there is no need to panic. These problems are easily resolved.

If uncomfortable, cover with wax. If it comes off the wire completely put in an envelope and bring to your next appointment. Do not connect rubberbands to a loose bracket or band.

SWOLLEN GUMS - It is very important to keep your teeth and gums free of plaque and food debris during orthodontic treatment and having regular dental checkups and cleanings by your family dentist. Poor oral hygiene may result in swollen and bleeding gum tissue. Please contact your family dentist should you experience swollen gums. Gentle and thorough brushing, rinsing with warm salt water and mouthwash will help temporarily before you see your family dentist. Also, using dental floss to check the swollen area to see if food debris may be trapped under a band or bracket is helpful. Orthodontic tooth movement may also cause swollen gums.

If none of these solutions help solve your problem and there is a TRUE orthodontic emergency, please call our emergency line at 425-270-8431.