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When it comes to orthodontic emergencies, they can be broken down into two categories: minor and major. Minor emergencies can generally be treated at home with a few supplies. Things that you may already have while major emergencies require the help of an orthodontist who is specialized in this type of treatment. Luckily, individuals who have braces are not often faced with severe circumstances that would require immediate care. Discomfort and general inconveniences are a normal part of having orthodontic treatment. Let’s examine a few common problems and potential solutions for minor and major emergencies.
Discomfort – When braces are first placed on a patient, discomfort can be normal for a few days. The pressure of having them adjusted each month can also bring on this feeling. This is both normal and temporary, generally relieved through the use of over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. The easiest way to prevent further discomfort is by eating soft foods and limiting the movement of your mouth.
Loose Ties and Wire Ligatures – The colorful rubber bands that are changed out each month are known as ties. It is not uncommon for these to come off and if you catch it in time, they can easily be placed back in their original position. Wire ligatures are a bit more tricky and may have to be removed or bent back down to limit irritation.
Lip or Cheek Irritation – One of the most common complaints that an orthodontist hears from patients is that their mouth is irritated from the new hardware in their mouth. Dental wax was created for this purpose. It can serve as the perfect buffer between brackets and a patient’s lips or cheeks. Often, your dental specialist will provide some wax at your visit but it can also be purchased at nearly any convenience store. Sores can be relieved through an application of a topical anesthetic such as Ora-Gel.
Protruding Wires – In the event that a wire is protruding at the back of your mouth, a Q-tip or other soft utensil can be used to push the wire until it lays flat. If the wire is extremely bothersome, it can be clipped with nail clippers. But caution must be taken to prevent the patient from swallowing the clipped piece. After this has been accomplished, wax can be placed over the edge of the wire to ensure comfort.
Loose Brackets – Most patients will experience a loose or broken bracket at some point during their treatment. Fortunately, they are usually not urgent. There are times when they can cause problems such as frequent movement or being swallowed if the elastic tie falls off. Furthermore, it can offset the treatment route and create an extension of care. If you are unable to get to the dentist office for a while, the bracket can be removed at home and brought with to the next appointment. The best way to prevent loose or broken brackets is by following the guidelines set forth by your orthodontist including wearing a protective mouth guard during sports and shying away from hard or crunchy foods.
Loose Bands – The metal ring located on the back molars could potentially come loose. While it may not present immediate harm, if you do not address it soon, saliva and plaque could build up allowing bacteria to enter. This could lead to demineralization, decalcification, or cavities on the surface of the tooth. If the band comes completely out, it is advised to place it in an envelope so it can be brought to the office. In the meantime, the patient should chew on the opposite side of their mouth to lessen any further damage that may occur.
Swallowing of Appliances – Of all the orthodontic emergencies that may exist, swallowing part of an appliance is the rarest and dangerous. Signs such as coughing, difficulty breathing, or a feeling of something in the throat is a clear indicator that a part may have been swallowed or aspirated. If there is an immediate concern and the dentist’s office is closed. Go immediately to the emergency room. Once the appliance has been cleared or removed, the patient will be examined for problems that may result from the missing piece.
All About Invisalign
One relatively new form of orthodontic treatment is Invisalign. The potential emergencies that exist with this corrective treatment are much less than the traditional option. Invisalign is a set of custom-made aligners that are virtually invisible. There are no metal brackets or wires and it is a great option for those who need minor cosmetic corrections, but can also be used for more complex cases. Although some level of discomfort and irritation still exists with the aligners, there are generally no protruding obstacles that may cause pain. If the trays cut into the patient’s gums, they can be cut down at the office.
Although some patients may require cement “buttons” to be attached to their teeth for additional movement, if this substance breaks off or is swallowed, it is generally safe. Another concern with Invisalign is the potential for a patient’s to swallow their aligners. Towards the end of the two week wear period, the trays begin to loosen and may present as a potential choking hazard. Lastly, the trays must be cleaned daily as they can be a breeding ground for bacteria that exists in your mouth. When brushing your teeth during the day and night, simply wash out the clear aligners as well.
Overall, the benefits of any form of orthodontic treatment far outweigh the disadvantages. Some normal discomfort and minor problems are common but generally not bothersome. Very few individuals have major complications during their treatment.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation at King Orthodontics
When you live in Ohio, it is easy to visit us at one of our two facilities in:
We offer a complimentary consultation after completing an examination with modern medical images. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Sam King. Our patients might need to wear orthodontic devices such as:
• Plastic Invisalign aligners created for adults and children
• Metal bracket and wire braces which are primarily worn by children
• Color-matching ceramic brackets that are not noticeable in your mouth
• Retainers that are worn when orthodontic treatment is almost completed
Call us at 937-433-0830 today to schedule your first appointment.
400 East Dayton
Yellow Springs Rd.
Fairborn, OH 45324
Phone: (937) 878-1561
How to Deal with Orthodontic (Emergencies)