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How to Deal with an Orthodontic Emergency

What Is an Orthodontic Emergency?

No matter how hard you may try, having braces can come with an occasional bump along the way. From sore teeth, a broken wire, or even getting injured playing sports, orthodontic problems, though very rare, can pop up. Most issues can be addressed at home, or with a quick phone call to the office for guidance, but some issues – particularly injuries – can be more serious and require immediate attention. But what is considered an orthodontic emergency, and what’s not? Here we have put together a list of common issues associated with braces, and what to do if there’s an actual emergency.

Minor Orthodontic Problems

  • Sore Teeth – During the first few days after braces are first applied or adjusted, it’s common for teeth to feel sore. Eating soft foods, having a cold drink, or taking over-the-counter pain relief can help.
  • Mouth Sores – Another common issue is that braces can rub against the inside of your lips and cheeks and cause sores. The best solution is to use a bit of orthodontic wax to cover the parts of the braces that are rubbing. If you don’t have any, it’s available at many drugstores or you can ask us and we will hook you up.
  • Broken or Loose Braces/Brackets – Brushing too hard or eating hard foods can cause a bracket to come loose or even pop off. If this happens, try to remove the bracket and contact the office to see if an appointment is necessary to replace it.
  • Poking or Loose Wire – If a wire has come loose, sometimes it is possible to gently push it back into place with a Q-tip or a clean pencil eraser end. Poking wires can be covered with orthodontic wax, and, as a last resort, wire ends can possibly be clipped with sterilized clippers.
  • Loose Teeth – During orthodontic treatment, it’s common for teeth to feel loose due to the gentle pressure and force of the braces shifting the teeth to a new position.

True Orthodontic Emergencies

  • Injuries to the Mouth or Face – Injuries or impacts to the mouth and face can cause cuts on the inside of lips and cheeks from the braces, as well as broken brackets, snapped wires, and several other serious issues. This can be from falls, sports injuries like getting hit in the mouth with a ball (which is why you should always wear a mouthguard!) If you injure your mouth or face, you should see us or your dentist immediately. You may need an X-ray to determine how severe the injury is and what treatment is necessary.
  • Shifted or Broken Teeth – Sometimes a mouth injury is so severe that it can cause a tooth to shift out of place or even break. Having braces can make this even more complicated. In this case, you will most likely need to see an oral surgeon for treatment. They will work to fix your teeth, and afterwards, the orthodontist will replace or adjust any brackets or wires to bring your teeth back into alignment.
  • Swollen or Infected Gums and Teeth – Infection in the gums and teeth is a serious issue that should be resolved as quickly as possible. This can be caused by bacterial infection from poor dental hygiene or allergies. Let us know if you suspect infection and we will help set a course for proper treatment.
  • Severe Pain in the Mouth, Teeth, or Face – Severe pain could be caused by injury, infection, or some other issue. If you have pain that won’t go away, you should get checked quickly to find out the cause and get treatment.
If you are experiencing a true orthodontic emergency, GIVE US A CALL! If your injury needs immediate medical attention, head straight to the emergency room. After you have been cared for, we will make sure you get in to see us as soon as possible.
Since 2003, our entire team at Carlson Orthodontics has worked hard to make sure that your orthodontic treatment process is as smooth and painless as possible. Although issues and emergencies can still happen, our expert team is prepared for anything life has to throw at you. Contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation, or call us at the location nearest to you today and let us help you along the path to a beautiful smile.
  • Duluth Office: 1901 South Street, Suite 2 – Duluth, MN(218) 727-3789
  • Cloquet Office: 708 Stanley Avenue – Cloquet, MN(218) 879-3794
  • Superior Office: 3701 Tower Avenue – Superior, WI(715) 392-0229
  • Hayward Office: 10541 N. Ranch Road – Hayward, WI(715) 292-5148
  • Ashland Office: 1419 Beaser Avenue – Ashland, WI(715) 682-5958
  • Ironwood Office: 250 Roosevelt Street – Ironwood, MI(906) 932-9720