There are very few true orthodontic emergencies, but we are always available to help you. If you have a broken appliance or are experiencing intense pain, please call us as soon as possible. We will do our best to fit you into the schedule for an appointment. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call immediately to notify us that you need an appliance repaired.
Surprisingly, most orthodontic problems can be remedied at home. While you await your appointment, these guidelines will help you resolve minor problems. Please know that even if you alleviate the pain caused by your broken appliance, you still need a repair appointment.
- Clean the injured area and put an ice pack on the lip or gum.
- Cover any exposed area with sterile gauze.
- Save the tip of the tooth (for possible reattachment) and call your family or pediatric dentist right away.
- Store the tooth fragment in water.
Headgear Doesn’t Fit
If your headgear is causing pain, it’s usually because it isn’t being worn long enough. Please adhere to your orthodontist’s instructions, and wear your headgear for the instructed amount of hours each day. If the facebow is bent, please call our office for an appointment. Do not try to adjust it yourself.
If teeth appear to fit together properly when the mouth is closed:
- Apply ice to control swelling.
- Restrict diet to soft foods and if no improvement occurs within 24 hours, seek dental care to rule out subtle injuries
- If in doubt at any time, contact your dentist or seek medical attention.
If teeth do not fit together properly when the mouth is closed:
- Seek emergency medical attention
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth
A tooth might be saved if cared for properly and reimplanted as soon as possible. Timely treatment may improve the chances of reattaching an injured tooth.
- Call your family or pediatric dentist for immediate attention.
- Locate the tooth; hold it by the crown (the wide part, not the pointed end/root).
- Remove large pieces of debris, but avoid rubbing or touching the root.
- Rinse the tooth. Do not scrub. If using a sink, be sure to put the plug in the sink so that the tooth will not go down the drain if it is dropped.
- Attempt to gently put the clean tooth back in its socket. Cover with gauze or tissue and bite down to stabilize it, if possible, or hold the tooth in its socket until seen by the dentist.
- If the tooth cannot be put back into its socket, store the tooth in liquid until you see the dentist. Put the tooth in milk or sterile saline solution (contact lens solution with no preservatives). Do not soak or store the tooth in water because water will kill the cells on the root that are vital for successful reimplantation. If milk or saline solution are unavailable, the tooth can be stored in the cheek where saliva will help provide vitality to the root surface. If stored in the cheek, be careful not to swallow the tooth.
- Do not let the tooth dry out.
First, call our office to see if the bracket needs to be re-fitted. If you have a situation where you must cut the wire or slide a bracket off the wire, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day to schedule a repair appointment.
An accident can cause a tooth to come loose from the socket, a tooth can be:
- Pushed into the socket (intruded)
- Knocked part way out of the socket (extruded)
- Pushed sidewards, but still in the socket (luxated)
What to do:
- Apply an ice pack to the injury.
- You may attempt to gently push an extruded tooth back into the socket
- Call your family or pediatric dentist for immediate attention. Early stabilization is the best chance for the tooth to reattach itself.
Try putting the wire back in place using tweezers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If that does not work, try putting wax over the wire where it is poking you. If you have a situation where you must cut the wire, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Cut the wire behind the last bracket in which it is secured.
Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but please call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.
Sore Teeth/Discomfort with Orthodontic Treatment
Right after you get your braces, and sometimes after you have an adjustment appointment, your teeth and mouth will feel sore. To alleviate the pain, you may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. You can also gargle lukewarm saltwater, which is a mixture of one teaspoon of salt dissolved in eight ounces of water. A warm wash cloth or a heating pad may also reduce the soreness in your jaws.
Try moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol.