Emergency Care

Our team at Lozman Orthodontics works hard to ensure your treatment is as comfortable and straightforward as possible. When something happens to your braces, it’s important to know whether the issue can be addressed at home or whether it requires a visit to our office.

Fortunately, true orthodontic emergencies are uncommon. Most issues that occur with braces can be treated at home with simple tools and techniques until you can see your orthodontist. In the rare event of a true emergency, prompt care is necessary to minimize complications and treatment delays.

The following guide will help you understand what situations need emergency attention and what you can fix from home.

What Are Orthodontic Emergencies?

Only the most severe emergencies require immediate attention by a healthcare professional. True orthodontic emergencies fall into three categories:

  • Severe pain or swelling
  • Infection in the gums or other areas of the mouth
  • An injury or trauma to the face, mouth or teeth

If you or your child is experiencing any of these issues, please consult with your orthodontist, pediatric or general dentist, or oral surgeon as soon as possible. Depending on the injury, a visit to the emergency room may be the best course of action.

Minor Orthodontic Issues and Remedies

The good news is that most orthodontic problems are considered minor, even though they might feel uncomfortable. In these cases, you may be able to resolve the issue temporarily from the comfort of your home while you wait for an appointment with your orthodontist.

Below are a few examples of problems that can arise with braces and how to handle them.

General Discomfort

Immediately after getting braces, your mouth may feel sore or tender, making eating difficult. This is completely normal and temporary. Eating a soft food diet and using over-the-counter pain medication can help ease the discomfort until your mouth adjusts.

Rinsing out your mouth with warm salt water can also ease inflammation and prevent infections. Dissolve about a teaspoonful of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse vigorously.

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Ulcers and Sores

Your gums, your tongue and the inside of your cheeks and lips may be irritated by contact with your braces, causing small sores or ulcers in some cases. While uncomfortable, this is usually a passing problem that goes away on its own. Topical anesthetics (e.g., Orabase or Ora-Gel) can decrease your discomfort, and orthodontic wax can prevent your braces from causing further irritation.

Over time, your mouth will get used to your braces. This will lessen the frequency of sores and ulcers and may eliminate them entirely.

Loose Bracket

Brackets can become loose because the adhesive that holds them fails, either due to hard food or accidents. This usually does not require immediate professional attention, but you should call us to set up an appointment to have the bracket reattached.

While you wait for your appointment, if the bracket is still attached to the archwire, leave it in place and stabilize it with a bit of orthodontic wax. If you can easily remove it, place it in a small bag or container and bring it to your appointment.

Loose Archwire or Ligature

Archwires can become loose or slip out completely. Ligatures (rubber bands) that hold the archwire can also slip out. Using sterile tweezers, try to bring the archwire or ligature into its proper position.

Notify your orthodontist about this problem as soon as possible to avoid injury or problems with your treatment.

Protruding Archwire

Occasionally, the end of an archwire wire will work itself out of place. An archwire that pokes and causes pain can temporarily be treated at home. Simply cover the end of the wire with orthodontic wax to protect your gums or cheek and make an appointment to have it seen by your orthodontist.

If the wire is extremely bothersome and an appointment cannot be scheduled anytime soon, you can use sterilized nail clippers to clip a portion of the wire as a last resort.

How to Avoid Orthodontic Emergencies

Emergencies can also be avoided or minimized with simple measures, such as:

Avoiding certain foods: Hard, sticky and chewy foods can damage braces or make cleaning teeth with braces difficult. Avoid things like popcorn, nuts, candy and gum.

Proper cleaning: Brush teeth and braces gently but thoroughly and use floss as instructed. Improper and rough cleaning can also cause accidents with braces and lead to gum problems.

Mouthguards: If you or your child participates in sports, wearing special mouthguards can protect your braces and teeth.

At Lozman Orthodontics, we do everything in our power to provide the best orthodontic experience possible for every patient. If you have any questions or are experiencing any issues, please reach out to our team right away.

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