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Orthodontic Emergency Guidelines

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What constitutes an orthodontic emergency? When should you rush to the office? When should you wait it out? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.


Are you experiencing pain or severe discomfort?

  • If you answered no to this question, you can put off the repair until your next appointment.
  • If the answer is yes, do not delay medical attention until your next appointment, call us so we can schedule as soon as possible or provide further instructions.
  • If you are experiencing some mild to moderate pain or discomfort that is manageable, try gargling a saltwater rinse to alleviate your pain. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil.
  • To alleviate the pain caused by canker sores or irritation, you can also pick up an ointment at the pharmacy such as Orabase or Orajel. Keeping a soft food diet will also help to keep the irritation to a minimum.

If you have a broken bracket or the wire popped out (the most common types of breakage), ask yourself:

  • Is the wire still attached to the bracket? If that is the case, can you push the wire back into place using something with a soft tip like a Q-tip or eraser?
  • Are you able to reinsert the wire using tweezers?

For a broken wire:

  • Start by reducing the friction that leads to irritation, apply orthodontic wax by rolling a small ball and placing it on the end of the wire. (Tip: if the wax is not available, you can substitute with sugarless gum)
  • If the wax or sugarless gum does not keep the wire from poking your gums, you can cut the wire flush to the bracket. Just be sure to disinfect the small nail clipper first.

For a broken bracket:

  • Disinfect a pair of tweezers or nail clippers and proceed to remove the bracket with light force. Place it in a bag and bring it to your next appointment.

Please contact us if you have any additional questions. We have a 24-hour answering service available to tend to any emergency that occurs after hours.

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