Thankfully, true emergencies that require you to be seen immediately in our office are very rare. If you experience severe pain or a problem you can’t resolve yourself, you should call our office to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help!
Many times though, you can temporarily correct a minor problem at home. Loose bands, poking or dislodged wires, tooth soreness, lost elastics and mouth sores are common issues that arise for many orthodontic patients.
Learning how to fix these problems on your own will not only save you time and trips to our office, but it will allow your orthodontic treatment to be as comfortable as possible.
First, you should learn the correct names of the parts of your orthodontic appliance. That way, you can correctly identify the part that is broken or out of place. These are common some terms used in orthodontic treatments:
A device designed to move the teeth, change their position, alter the position of the jaw or hold their teeth in place after braces are removed. Like braces, appliances may be attached to the teeth or may be removable, like a retainer.
A fixed orthodontic appliance, usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.
A metal wire attached to brackets and used to move the teeth.
A metal ring that is cemented to a tooth.
Brackets are connected to the metals bands, or cemented to the teeth. They hold the
archwire in place.
Ligatures hold the archwire to the brackets. Ligatures are usually tiny elastics or twisted wires.
Rubber Bands and Elastic Hooks
Rubber bands are attached to elastic hooks and they help move the teeth into their final position.
After the braces are removed, a fixed or removable appliance called a retainer is usually placed to keep the teeth in the correct place.
To create space between teeth, an elastic ring or small wire loop called a separator is placed between the teeth a week before the metal bands are cemented to the teeth.
Learning the names of parts of your orthodontic appliance is only the first step in temporarily fixing a problem. You can also alleviate discomfort using this guide.
When your braces are initially applied, you will feel general soreness in your mouth. Your teeth will be tender when you take bites of food. This discomfort usually lasts for three-to-five days, and can be lessened with these methods:
- Dissolve one teaspoon of table salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously.
- Place Orabase on sore areas. Orabase can be found in the tooth-care section of most drugstores.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen for severe tenderness.
The inside of your mouth may also become irritated for one or two weeks as the tongue,
cheeks and gums toughen and become accustomed to the braces. Wax can help ease the
tenderness. We’ll show you how to put wax on your braces before you leave our office.
Place wax on your appliance if it is poking your mouth, tongue, gums or lips.
If one of the brackets or bands is loose and is still attached to the wire, leave it in place and put wax on it to provide stability. If the bracket comes out entirely, wrap it in a tissue until you can make an appointment to have it reapplied.
If you have a loose wire, use tweezers to put your wire back into place. Add wax for stability. You can cut the wire with a pair of small fingernail clippers behind the tooth where the wire remains securely fastened. Place wax on the area if discomfort persists.
If a wire is poking your mouth, use a pencil eraser to push the wire down or into its original position so that it’s not irritating the surrounding tissue. Place wax on it to alleviate any additional discomfort.