Emergency Care

For major emergencies, such as trauma to the teeth/face/mouth, infection or swelling of the gums/mouth/face, or severe and unmanageable pain in these areas, you should seek help as soon as possible. Go to the emergency room, if that’s your best option, or start with your regular dentist, who is trained to handle a range of dental problems, such as a fractured tooth or infection.

True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to resolve the problem. 

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office. If there is a loose piece that you can remove, put it in a plastic bag or envelope, and bring it with you to your next appointment. If your braces are poking you, put soft wax on the piece that’s sticking out. If the wire has slid to one side, you can pull it back to the other side with needle-nosed pliers, replacing it in the tube on the back tooth.

After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office on the next business day to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan. For further information, refer to our Patient Care Videos section under Treatments.


General soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chew. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. An alternative (better tasting) mouthwash is the Healthy Gums Rinse by The Natural Dentist. Placing Orabase on the affected area may also help relieve discomfort; Orabase can be found in a pharmacy. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) actually slow the tooth movement, so it is not advisable to use them frequently while wearing braces.

The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how!

Loose appliance

If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part.

Loose bracket

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it, if needed, for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, place it in an envelope, and save it to bring to your next appointment. Call on the next business day for a repair appointment.

Loose wire

Using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers, try to put your wire back into place. It is okay to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place: tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing colored o-ring. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn’t help, as a last resort, use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp, place wax on it.

Poking wire

Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it so that it is no longer poking.