Whether you are wearing braces or clear aligners to straighten your teeth, accidents can happen, potentially leaving you dealing with an orthodontic emergency. With proper planning, however, you can be prepared for just about anything! And you will definitely want to take care of anything that comes up with your orthodontic device.

Top Three Causes of Orthodontic Emergencies

1. Biting or chewing foods that are on the “do not eat” list.

It can be hard to stop eating your favorite foods that are bad for braces. Just remember that staying away from braces-damaging foods doesn’t just protect wires and brackets but also your teeth in braces! Before you know it, your teeth will be straightened, and you can go back to mindfully eating the following foods:

  • Caramel or other hard or sticky candy
  • Crunch chips
  • Ice
  • Popcorn with kernels

2. Participating in high-impact or contact sports without a protective mouthguard.

Wearing mouthguards is a simple, easy and effective way to keep your teeth, lips, gums, soft tissues, and jaw safe as you participate in sports. You can find sports guards online and in stores, but your best bet is to get one from your dentist or orthodontist. Orthodontic mouthguards are a little bigger than their standard counterparts, so they fit comfortably over your braces.

3. Trauma or injury to the mouth.

If you take a hit to the mouth, your braces can often keep your teeth from falling out. But you can also have chipped or broken teeth from a blow, so the best thing you can do is let our office know right away so we can recommend optimal treatment as needed. Sometimes it can wait until your next scheduled appointment, and other times, we might need to see you sooner.

Common Orthodontic Fixes

  • If you have broken or loose brackets, putting some orthodontic wax on it can help. If your bracket falls off, our orthodontist will want to replace it with a new one the next time you come in.
  • Protruding wires poking the back of your mouth can often be put back into place with clean tweezers, a cotton swab or an eraser tip. You can also cover it with a piece of orthodontic wax and call us so we can advise you further (or see you sooner).
  • If you have lost rubber bands, you can try using a clean tweezer to put it back where it belongs.
  • If you have mouth sores from your braces hardware, putting some wax over the brackets can help. You can rinse with saltwater (one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water) to relieve pain and prevent infection and put some topical anesthetic on the painful ulcer on your lips, gums, cheeks, or tongue.
  • As your teeth gradually shift into their new positions, you can sometimes find yourself with painful teeth or even loosening. If this leaves your teeth aching, you can treat the soreness by rinsing with saltwater. If your jaw feels tender, you can apply a heating pad or warm washcloth (on the outside of your jaw) for relief.
  • If you are wearing a plastic aligner (instead of braces) and it cracks before you switch to the new set, you can often continue wearing it. However, if the tray breaks all the way, wear your previous tray so that your teeth movement stays on track and let us know so we can advise you further.

Protect Your Orthodontic Appliance

Whether you are wearing clear aligners or traditional braces, taking good care of your appliance while your teeth are being straightened is essential to prevent orthodontic accidents. Keep it clean and properly maintained (not skipping scheduled visits!), and brushing and flossing your teeth every day as recommended. That also goes for retainers, and if you have a break in a bonded retainer, you’ll need to come in to have that fixed or replaced.

We hope these tips help you feel more comfortable handling potential orthodontic accidents or injuries. When in doubt, always give us a call, and we can give you further instructions based on your situation. We look forward to making your time straightening your smile as comfortable and pleasant as possible!

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