Orthodontic Emergencies: What to Do and How to Prevent Them

Are you afraid of experiencing orthodontic emergencies? Then read this blog to prepare in case it ever happens to you.

May 14, 2023

Mmm... Chicken. Pasta. Cheese. Butter. Cream. It's chicken fettuccine alfredo! One of your favorite meals. You're about to eat, but you feel a twinge of pain in your cheek. Ow! What's that? A broken or loose wire? Mouth sores? Did I injure something?

As it turns out, that twinge of pain could result from an orthodontic emergency. No matter how well you take care of your braces or aligners, orthodontic emergencies can happen. But knowing how to deal with them can help you avoid further discomfort and prevent damage to your orthodontic appliance.

Here are some common orthodontic emergencies and how to handle them. This blog will also provide you with a few tips on preventing orthodontic emergencies in the first place.


Broken or Loose Brackets or Wires

Broken or loose brackets or wires can become an orthodontic emergency quickly. If a bracket or wire becomes loose or breaks, gently remove it from your mouth and save it if possible. This will help your orthodontist assess the damage and determine the best course of action. Avoid using your teeth to bite down on anything until the issue is resolved. 

If the broken or loose bracket or wire is causing pain or irritation, gently push it back into place with a cotton swab or Q-tip. Then, use orthodontic wax to cover the affected area and alleviate discomfort. Orthodontic wax can also temporarily secure any loose wires or brackets until you can see your orthodontist. Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment to fix the issue. 


Pain or Sensitivity

It's common to experience discomfort when your braces are put on or adjusted. This is because your teeth are moving and adapting to the new pressure. However, if you're experiencing persistent or intense pain or sensitivity, it could be an orthodontic emergency. 

Try using an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate discomfort. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to soothe any irritation or soreness. If the pain persists, contact your orthodontist for a consultation.


Injury or Trauma

If you experience an injury or trauma to your mouth or braces, seek medical attention immediately. This could include a blow to the face or mouth, a broken tooth, or any other injury. Keep as calm as possible and apply a cold compress to any swelling or pain.


Mouth Sores

Mouth sores, such as canker sores from braces, can occur from the brackets or wires rubbing against the inside of your mouth. They can also happen due to the accumulation of bacteria and food particles in hard-to-reach areas around your braces. To alleviate discomfort from mouth sores and promote healing:

  1. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times daily. You can also use ortho wax to cover the affected areas and minimize irritation.
  2. Avoid eating spicy or acidic foods. These can further irritate your mouth.
  3. Seek medical attention. If the sores persist, contact your orthodontist for advice.


Lost Aligners

If you lose your aligners, contact your orthodontist immediately. They may be able to replace them or provide you with a new set, although it may cost you extra and take a few additional steps to replace them. In the meantime, wear your previous set of aligners or revert to your last orthodontic treatment. 


Preventing Orthodontic Emergencies

While some orthodontic emergencies are unpredictable, there are steps you can take to prevent them from happening. These include:


Kicking certain foods

Avoid hard, crunchy, and sticky foods that could damage your braces or aligners. This can include popcorn, ice, nuts, hard candy, and chewy candy. These types of food can cause brackets or wires to become loose or break, leading to an orthodontic emergency.


Maintaining your oral health

Brush and floss regularly to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to orthodontic complications such as loose brackets or wires. You should brush twice daily for two minutes, floss daily, and use an antiseptic mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and healthy. Maintaining your oral health will minimize the accumulation of bacteria and food particles around your braces, which could lead to orthodontic emergencies. 

Furthermore, visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups to monitor the state of your teeth and gums.


Protecting your mouth

Wear a mouthguard during physical activities to protect your teeth and orthodontic appliances from damage. In addition, they can prevent injuries and trauma to your mouth and braces, which could lead to orthodontic emergencies.

Mouthguards are also recommended for those who grind their teeth at night to prevent damage to the teeth and braces. Your orthodontist will be able to provide you with a customized mouthguard that fits properly over your braces.


Listening to your orthodontist

Follow your orthodontist's instructions for caring for your braces or aligners, including attending regular appointments for adjustments. Think of it this way: Your orthodontist is there to give you valuable advice and will be able to detect and prevent any potential issues before they become orthodontic emergencies. In addition, they can guide you on how to keep you from having one in the first place. That’s what orthodontics is all about.



In conclusion, while orthodontic emergencies can be uncomfortable and stressful, knowing how to handle them can help you prevent further damage and discomfort. By following preventative measures such as avoiding certain foods, maintaining good oral hygiene, protecting your mouth during physical activities, and listening to your orthodontist's advice, you can minimize the risk of orthodontic emergencies and ensure a smooth treatment experience.

By being aware of common orthodontic emergencies and preventing them, you can keep your orthodontic treatment on track and avoid unnecessary discomfort and expenses. If you experience an orthodontic emergency, don't hesitate to contact your orthodontist for guidance and assistance. Schedule your smile assessment with Sharp Orthodontics today.

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(417) 337-8020

203-C Buccaneer Blvd. Branson, MO 65616

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