Types of Orthodontic Emergencies and How to Handle Them


Orthodontic treatment can sometimes come with a variety of unexpected issues. While it’s rare to encounter a life-threatening emergency in orthodontics, it’s not uncommon to experience some discomfort or run into minor emergencies that require attention. The more equipped you are to handle these situations, the better you can mitigate unnecessary pain and keep your orthodontic treatment plan on track.

Understanding Orthodontic Discomfort

Orthodontic discomfort is a common part of braces pain and adjusting to a new retainer. However, distinguishing between slight discomfort and actual pain that suggests an underlying issue is crucial. It’s essential to communicate with your orthodontist about what you’re experiencing, as they can provide professional guidance on managing orthodontic discomfort.

Minor braces pain can often be managed at home with over-the-counter pain medications or the use of pain relief wax provided by your orthodontist. Applying this wax can ease an irritating bracket or poking wire, providing a buffer between the metal and your mouth. To complement these strategies, it’s also beneficial to maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent additional discomfort from potential oral health issues.

During the days of treatment, you may feel your teeth moving which can cause slight discomfort, but if you’re experiencing tooth pain or loosening beyond the usual sensation, it’s important to consult your orthodontist. Such symptoms could be a sign that adjustments need to be made to your orthodontic appliances or that there might be other dental concerns that require evaluation. Always report these changes to ensure your orthodontic treatment plan remains on track and effective.

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Common Orthodontic Emergencies

Let’s delve into some of the emergencies and how to deal with them effectively.

Food Stuck in Braces Causing Pain

Occasionally, a food particle might become lodged between a band and a tooth or gum, causing discomfort. Call your orthodontist if you cannot remove it by brushing, flossing, or using a toothpick. For your comfort, they will likely see you the same day if you phone during business hours or the next day if you call after hours. If the pain is not severe, a few days to a week is often enough.

Mouth Sores

When the braces are placed on your teeth, you may initially have discomfort in your mouth, and after up to a week, you will have difficulty biting, and your teeth will become tender. The best course of action is to consume soft foods until the chewing process no longer causes discomfort. Even sore patches or inflamed gums can be soothed by gargling with warm saltwater. You feel more at ease after thoroughly rinsing your mouth with the warm salt water solution.

Wire Issues

A wire with pain relief in mind is crafted to be flexible yet sometimes can cause ulcer pain when it breaks or protrudes. If a poking wire occurs, you can use the eraser end of a pencil to gently push it back into place or place wax on it as a temporary solution. If the wire has caused cuts or sores, it’s best to contact your orthodontist as this can become an emergency situation if not treated properly.

Broken Brackets

If you have a bracket that breaks, it may not be a true emergency but it can add months onto treatment if not addressed quickly. If a bracket or band comes loose, it’s recommended to contact your orthodontist for an emergency visit. A broken bracket can often be the result of eating hard or sticky foods, which should be avoided during orthodontic treatment.

Missing Rubber Bands

Missing rubber bands in your braces may disrupt your orthodontic treatment, but it’s crucial not to try to fix it yourself. Reach out to your orthodontist promptly to address the issue properly. They will provide guidance on how to replace the bands or schedule an appointment to resolve the problem, ensuring your treatment stays on track.

Swallowed Appliance

If you suspect that you may have swallowed a piece of an orthodontic appliance, such as a band or a bracket, have another person look into your mouth and throat with a flashlight.

If the piece is not visible and you are coughing excessively or having problems breathing, it is possible that it was aspirated, which means it was breathed into your lungs. Get yourself to the nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

If you are not having difficulty breathing, there is a good probability that the appliance will move through your digestive system without producing any issues related to your health. It is a good idea to call your orthodontist and let them know that you have swallowed the device so that they can schedule an appointment for you to come in and obtain a new one.

Broken Retainer

The sound of a crushed retainer will stay with you for a long time! After you have recovered from the first shock of discovering that your retainer has been broken, the first thing you should do is examine it.

If the device was not disassembled, try it on your teeth to determine how well it fits. You may have only bent the retainer out of shape rather than breaking it entirely, which would be the greatest possible outcome. If the retainer is really wiggly, you should look for an orthodontist so that you can acquire a replacement retainer.

If you are unable to secure an appointment with an orthodontist right away, your next best option is to protect your teeth by purchasing a mouthguard that is sold in stores without a prescription. You could also be able to discover a temporary retainer that you can use until your appointment.

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How to Handle a True Orthodontic Emergency

If you are having an orthodontic emergency, you first need to take a deep breath and try to remain as calm as possible. Next, you should call your orthodontist. You need to describe what took place, how you are currently feeling, and the specific injuries or symptoms you have sustained.

It is critical to the success of what happens next that you involve your orthodontist as soon as you possibly can in the treatment process. Keeping them updated on the situation allows them to more accurately analyze the harm and devise a strategy on how to deal with the situation appropriately. After you have devised a strategy, you should immediately begin putting it into action so that you can forestall the emergence of new issues or the worsening of existing ones.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself in a situation that makes up a true orthodontic emergency, you should contact your orthodontist as soon as you possibly can. This way, you will be able to concentrate on getting better and continue with your treatment.

When to Seek Immediate Care

In the event of unmanageable pain, severe mouth – severe pain, or injury to the teeth and mouth, you should consider it a medical emergency. For any of these true emergency scenarios—where there’s severe pain in the mouth or face, trauma, or signs of infection—it’s imperative to seek care in an emergency facility if your orthodontist is unavailable.

However, if you find yourself dealing with a minor issue such as food stuck in braces causing pain, it’s usually something you can manage without a panic. Taking a moment to gently floss or use a toothpick can resolve the matter without an emergency visit. Similarly, for missing rubber bands, you can often replace them with the spares provided by your orthodontist, as this does not constitute an emergency.

Protecting Your Orthodontic Appliances

For a broken retainer, assess whether it’s a case of a slightly bent appliance or if it’s truly broken. If it’s just bent, you may be able to gently bend it back into place. For more significant damage, contact your orthodontist for a replacement. In the meantime, a store-bought mouthguard can serve as a temporary measure to keep your teeth stable.

Contact Kumra Orthodontics for Your Orthodontic Emergencies

In times of orthodontic emergencies, your trusted partner is Kumra Orthodontics. Our team is here to provide expert guidance and support whenever you face issues with your braces. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced orthodontist in DC for immediate assistance. Your smile’s health and well-being are our top priorities – contact us today to ensure your orthodontic journey stays on the right track. Your beautiful smile awaits!