What Is an Orthodontic Emergency?

Orthodontic emergencies are a challenging but solvable problem for patients.

At any given time, around 4 million Americans are wearing braces, making the appliance a familiar matter in most people’s life. Most of them will tell you that even though braces are pretty strong and durable, their parts can sometimes loosen or even fall off completely. Usually, this happens because patients don’t follow their diet as they should and end up damaging their braces little by little until a ligature or bracket breaks.

Given that braces work by applying constant pressure on your teeth and gums, it’s best to solve any orthodontic emergency that may arise as soon as possible to avoid unwanted pauses in your treatment. To accomplish that, patients need to know what problems can happen and what to do if they find themselves in that situation.

What Is Considered an Orthodontic Emergency?

An orthodontic emergency consists of any issue related to your orthodontic appliance that requires attention before your next scheduled appointment; it could come in the form of a piece falling out or feeling severe discomfort from it. Orthodontic emergencies usually cause pain, soreness, inflammation, and sometimes bleeding. Although an orthodontic emergency requires intervention, it can wait a few hours up to a couple of days, depending on the specific problem. If the situation is life-threatening or you see severe bleeding, go to emergencies immediately.

Here are a few common orthodontic emergencies and how to treat them.

A Loose Wire Is Poking You

It’s not uncommon for the archwire, the metal wire that goes across the brackets in your upper or lower row of teeth, to slide out of position due to the constant movement in your mouth or maybe just a small mistake when readjusting your braces. Whichever the case, the metal wire out of position can rub against your cheeks and gums and cause bleeding, inflammation, and overall discomfort.

One or More Ligatures Break

Ligatures, also called O-rings, are what hold the archwire and brackets together. They are two types of ligatures, the colored elastic ones, which are more common, and the metal kind. Sometimes the elastic kind can break or detach itself. If this were to happen, try to reattach it if possible. If the ligature breaks completely, it can, with time, impact your treatment plan negatively, so call your orthodontist as soon as possible to inform them of the situation. They will most likely schedule a new appointment and give you instructions on what to do until then.

The metal type of ligature can also loosen over time, although complete detachment is less likely.

Brackets Loosen or Fall Off

A bracket is the metal part of braces that orthodontists attach to your teeth with a special type of glue. If a patient doesn’t follow their diet, brackets can come loose or completely fall off. It could also happen if the braces wearer receives some type of impact on the head. Having a loose bracket for extended periods could move your teeth in an unintended way, so be sure to call your dentist and inform them of the situation.

How To Solve Orthodontic Emergencies At Home?

Thankfully, there are some immediate solutions to the problems already mentioned. Although, it’s important to remember that all of them are temporary fixes that are meant to alleviate pain or discomfort until you have your next appointment.

How to Fix a Loose Wire?

Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can try to relieve the pain until your next dental appointment. Firstly, you can try pushing the wire back into position with a Q-tip, a pair of tweezers, or the eraser bit of a pencil. If that doesn’t work, grab a pair of sterile tweezers, bend the metal wire toward the bracket, and press it against your teeth. Another method of pain relief is to use dental wax, just take a small-sized ball of wax and stick it to the end of the archwire. The dental wax will prevent the metal end from hurting the sensitive tissue in your mouth.

How to Fix a Loose Ligature?

If the metal kind of ligature loosens, you can use a pair of tweezers to tighten it back. Similarly, if a rubber ligature detaches itself but doesn’t break, you can try to reattach it with a pair of sterilized tweezers. In scenarios where an elastic ligature broke, your only option is to call your orthodontist and ask them when you can get your replacement.

How to Fix a Loose Bracket?

Depending on how loose the bracket is, you can remove it completely with a pair of tweezers, or you can apply dental wax on top of the bracket, so it doesn’t cause any irritation to the surrounding tissue. If you decide to remove the bracket entirely, don’t forget to store the bracket and take it with you to your next appointment.

Fix Your Braces With Us

If you are suffering from an Orthodontics Emergency in Fort Worth, contact us at Perkins Orthodontics. We will be ready to help you as soon as possible to get you back on track with your treatment.


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