Orthodontic Emergencies: Children and Adolescents
Call 911 or local emergency services if this is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention. Please do not continue searching our website.
Not all emergencies require immediate attention by an orthodontist. In the majority of cases, problems can be taken care of in the comfort of your own home and then treated with a follow-up by the orthodontist at your next scheduled visit. At this visit, remember to inform the orthodontist of the issue.
At home supplies you can use
Non-Medicated Orthodontic Relief Wax
Sterile Small, Sharp Nail Clippers
Salt for Gargling with Water
Orajel or Other Topical Anesthetic
This website can help you with the following types of emergencies:
"I Feel Discomfort."
It’s normal to feel discomfort for up to two or three days after braces or retainers are placed or adjusted. If eating is uncomfortable, remember that this is both normal and temporary. Try soft foods until you feel better. Also try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water. If the discomfort lasts longer than one week, call the orthodontist.
"A Spacer Fell Out."
In some cases, a Spacer is used to space out your back teeth before placing on your braces. If this spacer falls out before your next scheduled visit, it is usually not necessary to put it back in until three to five days before your next visit. If it is replaced before this time, it will most likely fall out again. Call the office to inform the orthodontist of what happened and to schedule a quick visit to replace the spacer a few days before your next scheduled visit.
"An Elastic Has Fallen Off."
Sometimes elastics, or the tiny rubber bands that hold the wire to the bracket, may come off. If you are able to, you can put the elastic back in place using sterile tweezers. Unless you are in pain, it is most likely unnecessary to see the orthodontist until your next visit.
When one elastic falls off or breaks, others may do the same. Examine all elastics and inform the orthodontist if you see any that are broken or missing.
If an elastic is lost, inform the orthodontist, who will advise whether you should be seen before your next scheduled visit.
"My Lips or Cheeks are Getting Irritated."
Sometimes new braces can irritate your mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax may help. Pinch off a small piece of wax, the size of a small pea, and roll it into a ball. Flatten the wax completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. The wax is harmless, so don’t worry if it is accidentally ingested.
"My Wire is Poking Me."
The end of one of your wires may shift out of place and irritate your mouth. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If you are unable to move the wire into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. If your next visit is coming up soon, this should help you stay comfortable until then. However if the wax does not help and you will not be able to see the orthodontist soon, you may have someone help to clip the wire, as long as he/she is comfortable with the task.
Remember that IF YOU CLIP THE WIRE, THE CLIPPED PIECE MUST BE REMOVED FROM YOUR MOUTH TO AVOID SWALLOWING. Use a folded tissue or gauze around the area to catch the piece. Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Cover the now-cut part of the wire with relief wax if necessary.
"I Have Mouth Sores."
Certain patients have a higher chance of getting mouth sores. While braces do not cause these sores, they may be aggravated by braces. Affected areas may include cheeks, lips or tongue. Although this is not an emergency, it may be very uncomfortable. Try applying a small amount of topical anesthetic, or Orajel, to the surface of the sore using a cotton swab. Reapply as directed by the instructions on the anesthetic or as needed.
"My Bracket Feels Loose/Fell Off."
Brackets are the parts of braces attached to the center of each tooth with a special adhesive. Sometimes it is okay to wait until your next visit to reposition your bracket. If a bracket has come loose, call the orthodontist to determine whether or not you need to be seen before your next appointment. A bracket can be knocked off if you eat hard or crunchy foods or if your mouth is struck during a sporting activity. Remember to always wear a mouth guard when playing sports.
If the bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and you cannot see the orthodontist right away, you can try to put the bracket back to help with potential discomfort. Always be careful to prevent swallowing of small pieces. To move the bracket back to its original position, use sterile tweezers to slide it along the wire until it is between two teeth. Rotate the bracket to its correct position. Carefully slide the bracket along the wire and back to the center of the tooth.