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Emergency orthodontics

When an orthodontic problem occurs, you may need to see the dentist urgently. Here are some of the most frequent situations.

Your device broke

Your orthodontic device broke after you bit into something hard. If one of the device’s components or the wire broke, it needs to be repaired quickly to avoid dental displacement or an injury.

Before going to the dentist:

  • If possible, remove the broken parts (coil spring, bands, brackets, etc.) and give them to the orthodontist
  • If you can’t remove the broken part but it’s hurting your mouth, cover it with orthodontic wax. This transparent wax sticks to orthodontic devices and protects the affected area. It often contains vitamin E, which can soothe irritated tissue
  • If you don’t have wax, you can use chewing gum, a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze
  • If the wire is stabbing the inside of your cheek, try replacing it using the eraser at the end of a pencil. Press lightly on the wire to fold it inward, toward the tooth
  • You can also cut the wire by carefully using nail clippers or small pliers

Your device is injuring the inside of your cheek

Unfortunately, a new orthodontic device can cause injuries to the inside of your cheeks, your lips and the soft tissue of your mouth. These injuries often happen when eating.

  • Use orthodontic wax to cover any painful components
  • Protect your lips with a hydrating lip balm

In most cases, the situation will improve over time.

However, if your injuries aren’t healing or if the use of wax isn’t helping, see your dentist.

You’re feeling unusual dental sensitivity

Orthodontic treatments often lead to some dental pain:

  • Mainly, at the beginning of a treatment
  • After some adjustments

To alleviate your discomfort, eat soft foods and take the recommended painkillers, if need be.

The severity and duration of the pain will vary from one person to another and the treatment carried out. But if pain is getting worse, seems unusual or is intolerable, call your dentist for an assessment.

You’ve noticed abnormal tooth movement

Orthodontic devices are designed to move teeth in a controlled manner. At the beginning of treatment, it’s possible that one or several teeth may seem to be moving in an undesirable direction. Don’t worry—an intermediary step is sometimes necessary for teeth to reach their final position.

However, sometimes abnormal dental displacement can occur.

Some of the most common causes:

  • A bracket has come loose or is broken
  • A wire is damaged
  • Inadequate pressure is being applied to the tooth (e.g. the elastic isn’t placed properly)

In these cases, if you notice that a dental root is visible under your gums, make an appointment to see your dentist. Quick intervention can correct the situation and will avoid having to prolong the duration of the treatment.

One of your brackets has come loose

A loose bracket can lead to several problems:

  • Injuries caused by a wire that’s come loose
  • Longer treatment time
  • Unwanted movement or displacement of a tooth

When a bracket comes loose, it’s not an emergency unless it’s causing you injury. Brackets can come unglued if you bite into something hard or if you’ve been hit on the mouth.

To minimize discomfort, put the band back in place using disinfected tweezers and apply some wax on it. The wire can also be cut if needed.

It’s difficult to predict how teeth will react when a bracket comes unglued. If you notice any unwanted movement, act quickly so as to not prolong your treatment.

Call your dentist

Before scheduling an urgent orthodontic appointment, ask if a dentist can see you first. Depending on the situation, the dentist may recommend an immediate appointment (for a quick adjustment) or a regular appointment (for more complex repairs).