True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they do occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call the office if you are experiencing severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to temporarily solve many problems until you can get to the office. Be sure to learn the names of the parts of your appliances so you can tell us which part is broken or out of place when you call us on the phone. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you come into the office to ensure that the problem has been solved or to have it repaired further. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may disrupt your treatment plan.

Soreness: This is to be expected for 3-4 days after appliances have been placed in your mouth. This is not only due to the bulk and edges of the appliances, but also due to the pressure that is exerted. In some cases, discomfort is experienced for a few more days than average. For relief, take aspirin, Advil or Tylenol, or a mouthwash made of one tablespoon of salt in a glass of warm water.

Your teeth may also begin to feel very slightly loose. This is to be expected, as we are moving them. Soon, you will not notice it.

Poking wire: Occasionally the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate the patient’s mouth. Use a Q-tip 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 wax. If the wire is extremely bothersome and you cannot see the doctor anytime soon, you may, as a last resort, clip the wire with scissors or nail clippers.

If an appliance breaks: If an appliance should break, save all the parts and return them to your doctor. Some parts are expensive and can be reused. If a wire is annoying you and you cannot get to the office, snip it off with scissors or a nail clipper. If you cannot do this, cover it with a piece of wax or a piece of wet facial tissue.

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.

Mouth sores: Apply a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel, available at a drugstore) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. You can also create a mouth wash made of one tablespoon of salt in a glass of warm water.

Irritation of lips or cheeks: Sometimes new braces can irritate the mouth. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax (found at a drugstore) 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. If the wax is accidentally ingested, don’t worry as it is harmless.