Emergency Treatments

The following orthodontic emergencies and their treatments are listed in the order of the least severe to the most severe. Only the most severe emergencies may require immediate attention by an orthodontist. The majority of these are easily treated either at home or at the surgery by Donna’s nurses.

Food Caught Between Teeth
This is not an emergency, but can be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing for the braces-wearing patient. It is 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 to dislodge food caught between teeth and braces.

Ligatures or O Rings Come Off
Tiny rubber bands (o-rings) or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If an o ring should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with sterile tweezers. If the wire ligature is sticking into your lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a cotton bud or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation.

It’s normal for you to have discomfort for a day or two after braces or retainers are adjusted. But it can make eating uncomfortable. The discomfort is both normal and temporary. Eat soft foods and rinse your mouth with warm salt water.

Mouth Sores
Some patients are susceptible to episodes of mouth sores. While braces do not cause them, they may be precipitated or exacerbated by an irritation from braces. One or several areas of ulceration of the cheeks, lips or tongue may appear. This is not an emergency, but may be very uncomfortable. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orobase and Cepacaine) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. Reapply as needed.

Irritation of Lips or Cheeks
Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when the patient is eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between metal and mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. You may then eat more comfortably. If the wax is accidentally ingested, it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.

Protruding Wire
Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your mouth. Use a cotton bud or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. Your parent/guardian will need to make Donna’s surgery aware of the problem.

Loose Brackets, Wires or Bands
If the braces have come loose in any way, you should call Donna’s surgery to determine appropriate next steps. Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They are generally positioned in the centre of each tooth. The bracket can be knocked off if you have eaten one of those hard or crunchy foods orthodontic patients are instructed to avoid, or if the mouth is struck while at play. We encourage all our patients, especially those with braces, to wear a protective mouth guard while playing sports.