What To Do
Although problems do occur from time to time, true orthodontic emergencies are rare. In the event of severe pain or a painful issue with your appliance that you can not remediate on your own, call our office to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, below are some of the most common orthodontic problems and how to temporarily alleviate pain caused by each.
Loose Brackets Or Bands
Call our office immediately for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and disinfected in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.
Ligatures Come Off
Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber ligature 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 out into the lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation.
Of course, when one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow. Be sure to examine all ligatures. Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention of the patient’s parent/guardian, who should then inform the orthodontist.
If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, notify the parent/guardian so that the orthodontist may advise whether the patient should be seen.
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 for the patient. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. Instruct the patient to reapply as needed.
Patients sometimes lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but do call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.