At Home Things to do or use for an Orthodontic Emergency

When in doubt, you can always call our office or your orthodontist’s office to have whatever problem you’re having taken care of in a timely and hopefully convenient manner. However, if you are out of town or if it is 3 am in the morning and you do not want to go to an emergency room and pay their ransom, this blog may provide you some tips to get you through until we can see you.

An emergency related to your braces occurs when something happens which can cause either discomfort or can cause your teeth to move unexpectedly. If you are not sure what part of your braces is possibly broken, you can refer to the literature we gave you when your braces were put on or also find the appropriate information on our website, which may already be on.

Types of emergencies with braces include trauma, sores, when they become loose or broken and/or unexpected tooth movement. If trauma does happen to you while you’re in braces, the good news is that it likely would’ve been worse since the braces almost serve as a protective splint to stabilize your teeth and make them a little better to absorb an impact to your mouth. However, your lips/cheeks won’t be happy and ice, wax and any over the counter pain medication will help until you can be seen by us or your orthodontist.

Some patients can develop canker sores in their mouth during treatment. Wax will help smooth an area until you can be seen by your orthodontist. The biggest contributor to prevent a chronic situation of canker sores in your mouth with or even without braces is to prevent your mouth from being dry. The toothpaste that you use is often a huge component to drying out your mouth. For most people, it ends up not being a big deal, but for some, a dry mouth leads to a greater frequency of canker sores. Most toothpastes have a soaping agent (SDS or SLS) in them that makes them bubbly but also dries out one’s mouth and can create an environment conducive to ulcers/canker sores. There are non-SDD/non-SLS toothpastes like Closys and in the recent past, Tom’s of Maine used to make one. Finally, you can also sip a little bit of water throughout the day. For most patients, your lips/cheeks will “toughen up” and become more resilient to your braces as your orthodontic treatment progresses.

Again, if something is poking you, try to use wax until you can be seen in our office. There is a simple technique to help improve applying and keeping the wax on the affected area. You can refer to our website or ask a member of our clinical team for a refresher course at your next visit. If a brace/bracket/metal band are loose and still connected and not bothering you, contact our office within a few days of discovery so that we can repair the problem. If you are in discomfort, try to apply wax or have someone (not you) carefully remove the offending part and place in a plastic/Ziploc bag for us to use/replace.

Finally, for some patients, their teeth can move unusually fast especially if they are wearing rubber bands. Again, if not sure, call our office, but in the present, stop wearing your rubber bands. Please click the emergency care tab on our website for more detailed information about an orthodontic emergency.

Note: Dr. Edward Altherr is a board-certified orthodontist in private practice serving Apex, NC, and the surrounding towns/cities of Cary, Holly Springs, Morrisville and Fuquay-Varina. Dr. Altherr’s training in orthodontics was at the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s program where we studied under many great orthodontic icons like Dr. William Proffitt and Dr. Camilla Tulloch. During his orthodontic training, Dr. Altherr’s research and further focus was on the orthodontic treatment of the mixed-dentition (mix of baby and adult teeth in kids between 6 and 14 yo). With his research and over 16 years of clinical orthodontic experience as of 2018, Dr. Altherr is considered an expert in mixed-dentition orthodontics and other areas of orthodontics like temporary skeletal anchors. This web blog is for educational purposes only. Dr. Altherr is licensed only in the state of North Carolina, and cannot diagnose and recommend orthodontic treatment over the phone or internet.

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