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Orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available. As a general rule, you should call us when you experience pain or have a painful appliance problem you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to assist you over the phone or schedule a visit to resolve the problem.

Fixing Common Orthodontic Problems

During orthodontic treatment, you may have something become loose or uncomfortable. Fortunately, most of these problems can be solved temporarily at home until you can come to our office for a scheduled appointment during normal business hours. If there is a loose piece that you remove, put it in a plastic bag or envelope and bring it with you to your next appointment.

After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you call our office 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.

Please read below to learn some techniques on how to address common problems.

Loose Bracket

If a bracket or band becomes loose and is still attached to the wire, it is usually not a problem as far as discomfort, but you should call the office to schedule a repair. You can always place wax on it to keep it more secure to the wire. If the bracket or band is causing you discomfort and can be removed easily, remove it and bring the broken bracket or band to your next visit. Stop wearing rubber bands until we advise you to start again.

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. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol), or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), or whatever you normally take for headaches or similar pain.

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. If you have a sore spot, put wax on the bracket or wire that is causing irritation. Roll the wax into a small ball, dry your mouth as much as possible and press it into the bracket or wire. Don’t be a hero – address these spots as they develop so your body has a chance to heal.

Loose Wire

Using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers, try to put your wire back into place. You may want to cover the loose wire with wax to provide additional stability.

Poking Wire

Sometimes smaller wires are used around the bracket themselves to hold the larger archwire into the bracket. If this small wire should start to poke you, using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax so that it is no longer poking. If the poking wire is in the back of the mouth, cover it with wax. 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. If you have had to clip a wire, please call the office and we will make you an appointment to get this wire replaced.

Loose Appliance

If you have an appliance such as an expander or Herbst and it feels loose, give us a call to schedule a repair. Usually, this does not cause discomfort, but you should be careful not to further loosen or to attempt to remove the appliance. Avoid any sticky foods that would pull it loose.

Lost Attachment

If you are an aligner patient and lose an attachment, your teeth may not progress as planned. Stay in the same set of aligners and give us a call to see if you need to come in for a repair visit prior to your next normally scheduled visit.


If your retainer is poking you, place wax on the offending part. If this is still not comfortable or this makes your retainer fit incorrectly, discontinue wear until you are seen in the office. Similarly, if the retainer looks to have been bent or distorted, discontinue wear. Sometimes newly erupting teeth may affect the fit of a retainer, but it is easily fixed in the office. The key is to call us as soon as you notice a problem so that there is no shifting of your teeth.

If you have a bonded retainer that has come loose, wear your removable retainers full-time until your repair appointment to prevent shifting. If the bonded retainer is completely out, save the retainer and bring it with you. There may be some glue on your teeth where the retainer was attached, but your removable retainer will still fit.

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