You might be surprised to know that you can temporarily solve many of the most common orthodontic problems at home. In fact, true orthodontic emergencies are rare. However, if you are in severe pain or have a painful appliance problem that you can't solve yourself, please call our office and we will get you taken care of as soon as possible. As a general rule, please call our office when you have any problems with your appliances, even if you are able to temporarily solve the issue, so that we can schedule you an appointment to repair the problem.


Food Caught Between Teeth and Braces

This is not an emergency but can be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing. Luckily, this problem is easily fixed by tying a knot in the middle of a piece of floss and threading it behind the wire to remove the food, or by using either a proxabrush or toothpick. 


Ligatures (aka wire ties) Come Off

Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, are used to hold the wire to your braces. If any of the rubber ties come off, you may be able to put them back around your brackets using sterile tweezers. If a wire tie comes loose, simply take it off with sterile tweezers and let our office know that it needs to be replaced. If a wire ligature is sticking out into your lip but is not loose, you may be able to bend it back down using a pencil eraser. Please make sure to let our office know if any of your ligature ties come loose, especially if you are unable to replace them on your own. 


General Discomfort/Sores

When you get your braces on, you may feel a general soreness in your mouth, and your teeth may be tender to biting pressures for the first few days. To help with this discomfort, it is best to stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chewing. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash, made by dissolving one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinsing your mouth vigorously.  You can also place Orabase or Ora-Gel (which can be found at your local pharmacy) on these irritated areas to relieve the discomfort. In addition, placing a small piece of relief wax on the bracket adjacent to the sore spot can act as a buffer until the area has healed. Finally, if the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. 


Poking Wire

Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your mouth. Most of the time, you can use a pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against your tooth. If you are unable to move the poking wire to a comfortable position, place some relief wax on the wire and call our office so that we can adjust the wire as soon as possible. If the wire is extremely bothersome and there is no way to come in and see Dr. Van Gemert within a reasonable amount of time, the last resort is to clip the wire with a sterile mini nail clipper. To reduce the possibility of swallowing the small piece of wire, place a cotton ball or folded tissue around the area/end of the wire prior to clipping the wire. Please do your best to see Dr. Van Gemert if you are in extreme discomfort and use this as an ABSOLUTE last resort as it may increase your time in treatment. 


Loose Bracket

If your bracket or band is loose but still attached to the wire, leave it in place and put wax on it as needed for comfort. If the loose bracket or band can be easily removed, please place it in an envelope and save it to bring to your next appointment. In either situation, please call our  office so that we can schedule an appointment to fix the loose bracket.


Loose Wire

If you loose a wire tie (rubber or wire) and your wire is loose, use a pair of sterile tweezers and try to put your wire back into place. To replace your missing wire tie, it is okay to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place. Just tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing wire tie. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn't help, as a last resort, you can use a small, sterile fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it. If you are in extreme discomfort from your loose wire, please do your best to see Dr. Van Gemert and clip the wire ONLY as an ABSOLUTE last resort as it may increase your time in treatment. 


Please contact our office with any problems you have with your braces so that we can repair the problem as soon as possible to avoid extending your treatment time.