Managing a Common Orthodontic Dental Emergency

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If you wear traditional braces, you may occasionally encounter a dental emergency involving the small components of your appliance such as wires and bands. Most of the time, a broken or loose part doesn’t constitute a true dental emergency, and you can handle it at home using a few simple supplies. Knowing how to manage common orthodontic mishaps at home saves time and prevents misery. Keep the following list of tools and helpful tips on hand for times when you can’t call your orthodontist for help.

Emergency Dental Supply Kit for Braces

  • Orthodontic relief wax
  • Dental floss
  • Interproximal brush
  • Sterile tweezers
  • Toothpicks
  • Small, sharp clippers
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Cotton swabs
  • Over-the-counter benzocaine-based topical anesthetic
  • Table salt

Food Trapped Between Teeth

Tie a knot in a piece of dental floss to help dislodge the food, or use an interproximal brush or toothpick.

Lost Ligature Wire or Band

Use sterile tweezers to replace rubber ligatures or remove loose wire ligatures. If a wire is sticking out and causing irritation, bend it back with a cotton swab. If you cannot find or replace a missing part, call your orthodontist to determine if you need to make an appointment.

Mouth Discomfort or Irritation

Some discomfort is normal after adjustments, but it can make eating difficult. Most emergency dentists encourage eating a soft diet and rinsing with warm, salty water. Take pain relievers if necessary. To prevent further irritation from braces, place a pea-sized amount of orthodontic relief wax over the painful area to create a buffer between soft tissue and metal parts.

Mouth Sores

Irritation from braces may contribute to mouth sores or make them more painful. Apply a benzocaine-based oral anesthetic to ulcerated areas using a sterile cotton swab, and reapply as often as needed.

Protruding Wire

If a wire works itself out of position, use a cotton swab to push it flat against your tooth. If this is not possible, cover it with dental wax.

Loose Brackets, Wires, or Bands

Call your orthodontist as soon as possible to discuss the appropriate treatment.

Knocked-Off Bracket

Impact to the mouth area or eating crunchy foods can dislodge a bracket. If the bracket has rotated, center it between two adjacent teeth, rotate it back to its normal position, and then slide it back into place.

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