Brace Yourself For An Orthodontic "Emergency"

by Dr. Jason Gladwell // April-May-June 2017

Most orthodontic patients, at some point, will experience broken brackets, loose bands, or a poking tie wire. While these are common occurrences in the world of braces, there are some simple guidelines to practice at home to help prevent problems and make the braces experience more comfortable. 
 
Should you encounter a problem with your braces, don’t stress! Many of the common orthodontic “emergencies” aren’t really emergencies at all. In some cases, there are simple at-home “quick fixes” you can do in a pinch until you’re able to see your orthodontist.  
 
First of all, if any sort of problem should arise with your braces, call your orthodontist before performing any type of “at-home fix” – even if it is a tiny problem, we want to stay informed and know what’s going on with you during the entire treatment process. Not only will you need to schedule an appointment for a permanent fix, but your problem could be more serious and require immediate, expert attention. 
 
In general, though, the following problems are fairly common for orthodontic patients and can be temporarily remedied at home: 
– Loose bracket or band: If the bracket or band is still attached to wire, leave it in place. If it’s uncomfortable, cover with wax. If it comes out completely, bring it with you to your next appointment. It is important to remember not to connect head gear or elastics to a loose band. 
– Wire out of tube: Using a pair of tweezers, try to place the wire back into the tube. Cover with wax if there is discomfort. 
– Rotated archware: Try to slide the wire around to the other side. If unsuccessful, place wax on the wire. 
– Poking tie wire: Bend the wire back with a spoon or a pencil eraser. If unsuccessful, place wax on the wire. 
– Poking archware: Cover with wax or wet cotton. 
 
There are simple guidelines you can follow at home in order to avoid the problems I’ve just listed, most of which have to do with what you eat. It’s widely known that orthodontic patients should stay away from sticky candy like chewing gum and caramel, but there are quite a few other foods that can cause problems for braces. In general, orthodontic patients should stay away from:  
– Biting ice: Can cause brackets to loosen. 
– Chewing on pens or pencils: Can cause bent archware and/or loose brackets. 
– Caramel: Can loosen bands. 
– Biting into a whole apple: Can displace brackets. 
– Drinking soda or other acid beverages: Can lead to swollen gums, white spots on teeth, and decay. 
– Eating nuts, popcorn, hard candy, crunchy foods, gum, or simply picking at your braces: All can cause major problems and break your braces. 
 
In addition to watching what you put in your mouth, it is equally important that patients protect their mouths when playing sports by wearing mouth guards. Whether it’s a relaxed pickup game with friends or the state championships, trauma to teeth – even during “low-contact” games – is very common and a mouth guard is a good idea. Custom mouth guards can be made by most dental offices and are an affordable way to keep your teeth healthy if an accident occurs. 

Dr. Jason Gladwell

Owner of Gladwell Orthodontics, Board Certified Specialist in orthodontics, and the state's only Super Elite provider for Invisalign. Gladwell Orthodontics is located at 2824 Rogers Rd., Suite 200 in Wake Forest.