Be Ready For Anything
You probably won’t experience a true orthodontic emergency because they’re rare.
But, since they do happen from time to time, our Lakeway Orthodontics patients should know how to handle them.
Here to Help Our Austin Patients
The following orthodontic emergencies and their treatments are listed in the order from least severe to most severe.
Only the most severe emergencies require immediate attention by Dr. Bolerjack.
This isn’t an emergency, but it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing. It’s easily fixed with a piece of dental floss.
Try tying a small knot in the middle of the floss to help remove the food or use an interproximal brush or toothpick to dislodge food caught between your teeth and your braces.
Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.
Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber ligature comes off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, remove it with sterile tweezers.
If your wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, you can bend it back down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser so it doesn’t irritate your lip. Of course, when one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow.
Be sure to examine all your ligatures. Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention of Dr. Bolerjack. If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, tell Dr. Bolerjack so he can advise whether you should be seen.
During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort.
You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm washcloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.
You may be susceptible to mouth sores. While your braces don’t cause them, they may be made worse by irritation from braces.
One or several patches of sores may appear on the cheeks, lips or tongue. This is not an emergency, but it may be very uncomfortable for you.
Get quick relief by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the area with sores using a cotton swab.
You can reapply as needed.
Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by 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. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.
Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your mouth. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it’s flat against the tooth.
If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. (See Irritated of Lips or Cheeks above for instructions on applying relief wax.)
You'll need to make Dr. Bolerjack aware of the problem.
In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome, and you can't see Dr. Bolerjack anytime soon, you may, as a last resort, clip the wire.
Reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area.
Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Relief wax may still be necessary to provide comfort to the irritated area.
If your braces come loose in any way, call Dr. Bolerjack to determine the next steps. Call our office immediately for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened.
The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend.
If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.
Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They’re generally positioned in the center of each tooth. The bracket can be knocked off if you've eaten one of those hard or crunchy foods you are instructed to avoid, or if the mouth is struck while at play.
We encourage all patients, especially those with braces, to wear a protective mouthguard while playing sports.
If the bracket is off-center, the adhesive may have failed. In this instance, it’s best to immediately notify Dr. Bolerjack, who will determine the course of action.
If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and you can't come to our office immediately, you can do a temporary fix to alleviate discomfort and prevent further damage, but take care to prevent swallowing or another injury.
To put the bracket back in place, use sterile tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth.
This is rare, but when it does happen, it can be alarming. It’s important to stay calm.
If you're coughing excessively or having difficulty breathing, you may have inhaled the piece into your airways or lungs.
If you can see the piece, you may carefully attempt to remove it.
DO NOT try if you could cause harm.
If appropriate under the circumstances, examine your braces for problems that may result from the missing piece, such as looseness or irritation, and treat as specified above.
If you can’t see the piece and believe you may have inhaled it, call Dr. Bolerjack immediately.