Orthodontic Emergencies

We're here to help

Fortunately, true orthodontic emergencies are very rare. Occasionally you may need to visit us for an ’emergency’ before your next scheduled appointment. These appointments are known as ‘Comfort Appointments’.

There are many small parts working together in your orthodontic appliances and sometimes things can spring loose. There are times when we might need to see you sooner, and others when you can wait for your next appointment.

You may be surprised to learn that you are often able to temporarily solve many problems yourself until you can schedule an appointment. Most orthodontic “emergencies” can be solved at home. However, you are free to call us if you would like additional advice.

  1. The following are common orthodontic “emergencies” and tips on how to handle them:

    • Loose Bracket: If the bracket is not spinning around and knocking into your other teeth you should have it repaired as soon as it is convenient but it is not an emergency.The brackets are attached to your teeth with a special adhesive. The brackets can break off and move along the wire. A loose bracket often causes no discomfort. If the bracket is rubbing against the inside of your lips or cheeks you may wish to use a small amount of orthodontic wax - simply roll a small piece into the size of a small pea and place it over the bracket causing the discomfort.

    • Archwire is Poking: If the end of your wire is poking your mouth, please use orthodontic wax to protect your cheek and cover the areas. You can also use manicure scissors or a nail clipper to cut the end of the wire. If you cannot cut the wire yourself, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

    • Lip or Cheek Irritation: Sometimes, when you first get your braces fitted, they can irritate your mouth. A small amount of orthodontic wax can protect your cheek, tongue, or lips from rubbing against your braces. Simply roll a small piece into the size of a small pea and place it over the areas causing discomfort. A wet cotton ball can suffice if you do not have any dental wax.

    • Puffy Gums or Persistent Ulcers: If your gums are swollen and puffy, particularly around an appliance that we have fitted, this is often due to plaque accumulating around the gum margins of the teeth. Many patients need to see a hygienist on a regular basis when they are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Try regular mouth washes with warm salty water and see if things improve, if not be sure to bring it up at your next appointment.

    • Other Appliance Issues: Depending on the appliance, sometimes these can be easily remedied at home – for example, if your Hyrax expander or MARA appliance becomes loose on one side, push it back into place and avoid eating any hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy foods. Contact us to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, if your child has a palate expander appliance please do not use the key for the expander until it is glued back in. If your palate expander or MARA becomes loose on both sides, it will come completely out of the mouth. Place your child’s appliance in a plastic tube (preferably with a lid) and call the practice to schedule an appointment to have it glued back on. If the palate expander remains out of the mouth for too long, the upper jaw will shrink back to its original size and you will have to start the expansion treatment all over again. This can cause a significant delay in your overall treatment.

    • Broken or split retainer: If you are able, continue to wear your retainer as instructed; however, call us to book an appointment to have your retainer checked.

    • Lost retainer: If you have lost or misplaced your retainer, have a very thorough search for it before calling the practice. If it is not found, call and make an appointment for as soon as possible so that a replacement retainer can be made for you. This will involve coming in to have a new digital scan taken. It is important that you contact us within a week because without your retainers, your teeth may shift and require treatment again.

    • Lost aligners: If you lose an Invisalign aligner during treatment, please give us a call so that we can advise on the best course of action. Depending on your case and how many days in you were, this will usually involve moving to the next aligner if possible, or if not, moving back to the previous aligner. For this reason, we suggest that you keep your old aligners in a safe place.

Orthodontic Wax

When you have braces, orthodontic wax can be very useful. Fixing anything from a long wire, to a broken bracket to simply easing the persistent rub of a newly fitted appliance on your cheek. If you have run out of wax please do pop in and collect some from our reception team. If you require some wax urgently most chemists stock it in the dental section. You can also use cheese wax instead (such as the wax around a ball of Edam cheese).

contact us

And remember…don’t panic!

The British Orthodontic Society has produced a series of Home Repair Videos that patients may find useful. If you are unable to visit the practice and have an issue with your brace, you may find their videos very helpful. The videos cover a number of different issues to help you until you can attend the practice.

VIEw videos