Orthodontic emergencies, while rare, can be especially scary, especially if you have only just started undergoing orthodontic treatment, gum disease caused by orthodontic appliance, or similar dental care. Anyone who has had braces fitted will be able to relate to the discomfort that you initially feel when they are fixed onto your teeth and also the dull ache you can experience when your braces are adjusted. These sensations are not pleasant, but the good news is that minor discomfort is completely normal with regards to orthodontic treatment and should not be cause for concern—and are certainly not classed as dental emergencies. That said, on occasion, you might find yourself faced with a bigger problem that causes you to experience severe pain and constitutes emergency dental care or even oral surgery. Under these circumstances, you would need emergency attention to resolve the issue right away.
What Is Considered a True Dental Emergency?
If you are experiencing the following symptoms then you need to find an emergency Orthodontist immediately:
- If you have experienced severe trauma to your face, teeth, or mouth
- If you have developed an infection in your mouth, gums, or face that is usually accompanied by bleeding and swelling
- If the pain is unbearable and you fear for your well-being
As soon as you notice any of the issues mentioned above or similar, then you should locate an emergency dentist in your area as quickly as you can. If you are experiencing confusion and nausea along with your pain, then your first port of call should be the emergency room.
Minor Emergencies and What to Do
It will no doubt come as a huge relief that, no matter how painful they may be, the majority of orthodontic issues are not normally considered to be a serious emergency. In these instances, there is a range of steps you can take that will provide you with a temporary solution for pain relief until you can get an urgent appointment to see an orthodontist. Below, we outline some potential problems that could arise and what you can do about them at home.
Broken Braces: Bands, Brackets, and Wires
As a rule of thumb, if your brackets have come loose or they have broken, then it is not an emergency. If a piece of your dental brace has completely come away from the surface of your tooth, just put it somewhere safe until you next see your orthodontist (you should schedule an appointment for as soon as possible.) If on the other hand, if a wire has snapped or the bracket is still attached while loose, then you should call for an emergency orthodontic appointment. In the meantime, if you find that any broken pieces of wire or bracket are irritating your mouth and causing discomfort, then simply cover the offending area with orthodontic wax or, as a last resort, cotton wool padding. It is important to remember that this is only a temporary solution if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation out of office hours and you should book an appointment to see your specialist as soon as possible to receive guidance on your next steps.
Poking Wires, Missing Elastic Ties, and Misplaced Brackets
The wonderful thing about modern-day orthodontic treatment is that, shortly after your fixed brace is fitted, your teeth will respond and start to adjust themselves accordingly. However, it is also perfectly normal that it could be a little uncomfortable. However, if you notice that your brace wire is protruding and poking into your cheeks or gums, then you will need to try and get it back into position as soon as possible to avoid further irritation. Simply use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to gently push the wire back into position, making sure not to force it. You will need to dry the area you will be working on with some cotton or a paper towel first to make the job easier.
If you notice that any wires or ties have become misplaced, then you might be able to put them back into position using a pair of tweezers (after sanitizing them first with rubbing alcohol). If you notice that an elastic tie has broken away completely and is missing, then don’t panic—this can wait until your next scheduled appointment to be replaced. The teeth of some people move into position faster than others; therefore, you might notice a protruding wire at the very back of your teeth and it can cause your gums to bleed. If you feel confident enough to take matters into your own hands temporarily, just snip the excess wire off using nail clippers. If you are not successful, or you are reluctant to try temporarily resolving the issue by yourself, then call your dental practice for an appointment.
Loose or Painful Teeth
During the course of your orthodontic treatment, you may notice that your teeth feel loose. This is excellent news as it means that they are moving into place and you are one step closer to having perfectly aligned teeth. Most patients report tenderness at the same time and chewing can become uncomfortable. If the pain is minor, then you can alleviate symptoms with over-the-counter painkillers and you can also try a warm salt-water mouth rinse twice a day for additional relief. You can also consult your pharmacist about the best topical numbing gel that can be applied to mouth ulcers that may have formed as a result of rubbing and irritation.
Your Retainer Is Broken
While many better-quality retainers are extremely durable, they are not completely indestructible. Accidents happen and the plastic or metal parts might bend or break. If you notice that your retainer is damaged, then you should stop using it right away and call your orthodontist to schedule a last-minute appointment. While a broken retainer is not an urgent emergency, it is important that you replace it as soon as possible as your teeth could start shifting otherwise.
You Have Swallowed Your Brace or Retainer
This type of orthodontic emergency fortunately doesn’t happen often, but if you find that you have accidentally swallowed part of your brace or retainer, then you will need to seek medical attention immediately.
If you experience severe discomfort of any kind due to a result of any kind of orthodontic mishap, then call us today at 1 (888) 420-6826 and let us help you find an emergency dentist who will be able to see you right away, regardless of the time of day.