Braces Emergencies

Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have a question that isn't answered below, feel free to give our San Diego, CA dental practice a call and we'll be happy to assist you.
Orthodontic Emergencies
Loose Brackets and Bands

Temporarily reattach loose braces with a small piece of orthodontic wax. Alternatively, place the wax over the braces to provide a cushion. See your orthodontist as soon as possible. If the problem is a loose band, save it and call your orthodontist for an appointment to have it re-cemented or replaced (and to have missing spacers replaced).

Broken Braces Wires

If a wire breaks or sticks out of a bracket or band and is poking your cheek, tongue or gum, try using the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire into a more comfortable position. If you can't reposition the wire, cover the end with orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball, or piece of gauze until you can get to your orthodontist's office.

If a Rubber Spacer Falls Out

Take two pieces of dental floss and insert them through the spacer. Then pull on both pieces of floss to stretch the spacer and slide the spacer back and forth between the two teeth where it belongs. When the bottom half of the spacer slips under the tight spot between the teeth, release and remove the floss and the spacer should now be back in place.

If a Wire is Causing Irritation

Try pushing the wire away from the area being irritated using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-Tip. If the wire cannot be tucked in, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax, a cotton ball, or a piece of sugarless gum, until you can see your orthodontist for a adjustment. Cutting the wire should only be done as a last resort if professional help is unavailable.

If the Main Wire Has Come Out

If the main wire has come out of the tube or pipe on the back molar tooth, you may attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle nosed pliers or tweezers. If you are having a difficult time and the wire is not sticking you, place a piece of wax over the area. If the wire is sticking you and wax does not help, the wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or toenail clipper close to the back of the last brace. Cutting the wire should only be done as a last resort if professional help is unavailable.

If a Bracket is Loose
If a bracket (the small rectangular brace) is loose, in most cases, it will remain connected to the main wire by a little rubber ring that is often colored. A loose band or bracket can generally be left in place until you are seen in our office. You may use a pair of eyebrow tweezers to reposition the brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. Call our office as soon as you notice a loose band or bracket so we can schedule you to be seen to reattach the loose appliance.
If You Swallow a Piece
If you swallow a piece of your appliance, try to remain calm. A swallowed piece will usually go either into the stomach or lungs. Most of the time it will go in the stomach and pass out of the body in a bowel movement. However, if difficulty breathing is experienced, you should seek immediate medical attetion. X-rays will be taken to determine the position of the swallowed piece and your physicians will counsel you on your options concerning retrieval of the stray piece.
If Your Teeth Are Sore

If your teeth are sore after a monthly visit take aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen unless you are allergic to them. Rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water can also be soothing.

If Your Headgear Gets Bent
If your headgear gets bent or is not fitting well it should not be worn until it can be properly adjusted in our office.
If a Retainer Cracks

If a retainer cracks, remove the retainer from your mouth and bring all the pieces to your orthodontist for a professional repair.

Orthodontic Care
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry concerned with the straightening of teeth to correct functional or cosmetic issues. Using specially designed and fitted appliances, constant and gentle pressure is applied to the teeth causing them to move into the desired position. While orthodontic appliances were traditionally, made of metal, orthodontists now provide patients with the option of metal, ceramic, or plastic appliances. Such appliances can be removable or bonded to the teeth, based on the patient’s wants and the doctor’s recommendation. The movement of the teeth is triggered by a static yet gentle force which slowly shifts the teeth in a controlled direction. Braces are no longer an unpleasant impediment. Today, orthodontists provide their patients with top of the line products which are less painful, appearance-abusive, and much more effective! With the option of selecting between metallic or ceramic brackets, the color of the ties holding the brackets, and the style of braces, orthodontists have made wearing braces fun and easy!
What age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?
Although treatment it is rarely needed at this age, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by AGE 7. This is around the time that jaws are developed enough to predict if treatment will be needed in the future. Having an early screening allows pediatric dentists and orthodontists to assess and monitor the development of the patient before a problem occurs. When you have time on your side you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems by intervening when necessary
Do Braces Hurt?
When teeth are first moved, mild discomfort may result. The sensation usually lasts about 24 to 72 hours. Patients report a lessening of discomfort as the treatment progresses. Medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may be taken to alleviate the discomfort.
What Are Some Signs That Braces May Be Needed?
• Upper Front Teeth Protrude Excessively over Lower Teeth or Are Bucked • Upper Front Teeth Cover the Majority of Lower Teeth When Biting (Deep Bite) • Upper Front Teeth Are behind/inside Lower Front Teeth (Underbite) • Upper & Lower Front Teeth Don't Touch When Biting (Open Bite) • Crowded or Overlapped Teeth • Center of Upper & Lower Teeth Doesn't Align • Finger- or Thumb-Sucking Habits Continue after Age 6 or 7 • Difficulty Chewing • Teeth Wearing Unevenly or Excessively • Lower Jaw Shifts to one Side When Biting • Spaces between Teeth
Should I See My General Dentist While I Have Braces?
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist for cleanings and dental checkups. During orthodontic treatment, some dentists suggest adding an additional cleaning to the hygiene schedule to the common two times a year schedule.
What are the proper ways to take care of my dentures?
Taking proper care of your dentures helps to ensure that they last as long as possible and that your mouth remains healthy.

Clean and Soak
Removable dentures should be taken out at bedtime, cleaned, and soaked in a water-based cleaning solution overnight to keep your mouth healthy, remove food and plaque, and minimize staining. Dentures should be cleaned only with dish washing liquid or denture cleanser applied to a moistened denture brush or soft toothbrush, and all surfaces, inside and out, should be gently scrubbed. Individuals with implant overdentures need to practice especially careful oral hygiene, with thorough cleaning of the gums, attachment mechanism, and overdenture.

Keep Those Appointments!
Periodic examinations are key to maintaining oral health and ensuring that your dentures continue to function properly. In addition to routine exams, see your dental professional to:
  • Address sore spots and irritations
  • Remove stubborn stains that don’t come off with routine cleaning
  • Repair broken dentures
  • Determine if dentures need to be replaced (usually needed every 4 to 8 years).

  • Cost
    Fees for denture-related services vary widely. Speak to your dental professional and contact your state or local dental society about any available resources.

    Your Beautiful Smile

    Communicating your needs, concerns, and expectations will help your dental professional provide you with the treatment plan and dentures that are best for you—giving you peace of mind, good oral health, and a reason to smile for years to come.