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Orthodontic Emergencies


Orthodontic Emergencies

Fortunately, orthodontic emergencies are rare; however, if you are experiencing discomfort or an emergency please contact our office (713) 464-1651. Also, please contact our office if you have any questions about your orthodontic appliance. Below are a few simple steps that might help if you if you need a quick fix until we are able to see you.

Loose Bracket or Band

Orthodontic brackets and bands are placed on the teeth using a very durable adhesive, but because you will want to remove your braces when treatment is complete it is not a permanent adhesive! Occasionally, a bracket or band may come loose. Because the bracket is tied onto the arch wire it may be loose from the tooth but not off the arch wire. In this situation the bracket may be movable but not be uncomfortable. If you can remove the loose bracket or band place it in a “baggy” to bring to the office. It is important to call the office (713) 464-1651 as soon as possible in order for us to schedule time to reattached the bracket or band so you treatment time is not extended.

Poking Wire

If a wire is poking your gums or cheek, there are several things you can try until you are able to be seen in office. First, try placing a bead of silicone on the irritating wire. Specialized silicone is available in most grocery, drug stores, and even drug section of Walmart and Target. Look for “Mack’s Ear Plugs” or “Physicians’ Choice Ear Putty”, although these items are used to prevent swimmer's ear infections, it is the same material available in the dental office for relieving discomfort caused by poking wires. Dental wax is not as effective as these silicone materials.

Sometimes, a poking wire can be safely turned down so that it no longer causes discomfort. You can use a pencil eraser, or some other smooth object to tuck the offending wire out of the way. Call the office (713) 464-1651 as soon as possible so we can correct this problem quickly.

Wire Out of Back Bracket

Please be careful to avoid hard or sticky foods that may bend the wire or cause it to come out of its proper brace. If this happens, you may use a tweezers to put the wire back into the hole in the back bracket. If you are unable to do this to relieve discomfort please call the office (713) 464-1651 as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to correct this concern.

Elastic (Rubber Band) Hook Poking Cheek

Some brackets have small hooks on them for elastic attachment. These hooks can occasionally become irritating to the lips or cheeks. If this happens, you may either use a pencil eraser to carefully push the hook in towards the gums. If this does not work try placing a bead of silicone on the irritating bracket and hook. Specialized silicone is available in most grocery, drug stores and even drug section of Walmart and Target. Look for “Mack’s Ear Plugs” or “Physicians’ Choice Ear Putty”, although these items are used to prevent swimmers’ ear infections it is the same material available in the dental office for relieving discomfort caused by irritating bracket hooks. Dental wax is not as effective as these silicone materials.

I’ll Just Wait Until My Next Appointment

If a bracket or band has come off of your teeth or a wire is not in the bracket your teeth may not be guided into the desired position. Waiting until your next appointment to correct this will disrupt your treatment plan and may extend your treatment time delaying completion of your orthodontics. Please notify the office (713)464-1651 if you are have a loose bracket or a problem with the arch wire so an appointment can be scheduled to correct the problem and keep your treatment on track.

Sore Teeth

You may be experiencing some discomfort after beginning treatment, or after an appointment where your arch wires are changed or appliances are adjusted. This is normal and should diminish within 24-72 hours. A few suggestions to help with the discomfort:

  • Rinse with warm water or warm salt water [mix one (1) teaspoon of salt into eight (8) ounces of warm water] – gargle and spit out – repeat several times a day.
  • Eat a softer-food diet.
  • Take an over the counter pain relief medicine (Tylenol) as directed on the bottle. Aspirin, Motrin and Advil are not recommended and it has been documented that these medicines actually slow tooth movement.

Your comfort is important to us! If these “at home” solutions listed above do not work for you please call the office as soon as possible. If you experience any problems not listed above please call the office and we will let you know whether you need to be seen before your next appointment.

Sports Injuries

For our patients involved in recreational activities and sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect a patient from serious injury while wearing braces. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while a patient is wearing it, allowing them talk, breathe and participate in all activities.

Ask Dr. West about custom and store-bought mouth protectors. And if you sustain an injury while in braces please call the office immediately (713)464-1651.

What Can Be Done if My Child’s Permanent Tooth Cannot be Re-implanted after an Accident

When a patient is missing a front tooth because of facial trauma in which the tooth has been knocked out of the mouth and it is not a candidate for re-implantation it is very easy to camouflage the space so that it appears a tooth is present. If you can retrieve the tooth that has been knocked out it can still be adapted to maintain aesthetics and spacing. Orthodontic treatment options are available to manage the teeth that have been knocked out.