At Orthodontic Associates, we understand that orthodontic problems happen and can present themselves at the most inopportune times. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted all our lives in some way or another, so we wanted to take a minute to speak to our patients about urgent orthodontic care to ease any concerns when the need arises.

First off, if you are having a severe emergency, please call 9-1-1 or visit your local emergency room. If you are experiencing uncomfortable pain, an accident that affects your oral health or an orthodontic appliance problem, such as a poking wire, do not hesitate to give us a call at (405) 947-1526. If after hours, please follow the prompts to speak with one of our team members.

As always, you need to take good care of your braces, retainer, or other orthodontic appliances. But no matter how careful you are, we understand that you may find yourself in need of urgent orthodontic care at some point, and that’s okay, we’ll always be here for you when you need us.

True Dental Emergencies

You’ll be happy to know that most orthodontic problems — no matter how painful — aren’t generally considered a serious emergency. However, a true dental emergency should be handled very quickly. Below are the key symptoms that would characterize a true dental emergency.

  • Severe trauma to the mouth, teeth, or face.
  • Infection of the mouth, gums, or face, which usually presents with bleeding, swelling, and pain.
  • Unbearable oral pain and fear for your well-being.

Swallowing Part of Your Orthodontic Gear

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, but when it does happen it can feel alarming. We encourage you to remain calm, and give us a call at (405) 947-1526. If you are coughing excessively or having difficulty breathing, please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Common Minor Orthodontic Emergencies

Broken Wires

Because they are necessary for your braces to function, broken wires should be replaced in a timely manner by your orthodontist. One of the worst things about a broken wire is that it may end up poking your cheek, gums, or mouth and become painful. If the broken end of the wire is poking you, you may want to cut the end of it off. This can be done using small pliers, wire cutters, or nail clippers that have been sterilized with boiling water or rubbing alcohol. You can also use a small piece of orthodontic wax to protect your mouth from the wire until you can see your orthodontist.

Loose Brackets

Brackets are the metal or ceramic pieces that are attached to your teeth using a special resin. the resin can sometimes fail or break when a patient chooses to eat hard or sticky foods. If a bracket comes completely off, hold on to it and contact our office. Our fully trained staff can assess the need for an additional appointment to replace the bracket. If the piece is still partially attached and poking you, you can use orthodontic wax to protect your mouth until your appointment.

Loose Bands

Bands are the metal rings placed around some of your teeth as part of your braces system. If one of these bands loosens, your doctor will need to replace or reattach it. If the band comes completely off, you should not try to put it back into place yourself. Instead, keep it safe until you are able to see your orthodontist.

Broken Retainer

A broken retainer isn’t an urgent emergency. However, if you’ve broken your retainer or noticed that it is damaged, you need to stop using it immediately. Then, you’ll want to make an appointment to get it replaced soon because your teeth could start shifting without the regular use of your retainer.

Urgent Orthodontic Care Tips

We understand that sometimes you just can’t get into the orthodontist as soon as you would like — especially during current events. That’s why we wanted to list a few tips you can use to help take care of the problem short term:

  • You can use a cotton swab or clean pencil eraser to gently move bent or broken wires into more comfortable positions. Before doing so, make sure to thoroughly dry the area to prevent slipping. Also, you should be careful while doing this, because too much stress could lead to other problems.
  • Remember that orthodontic wax is your friend in an urgent situation. As such, we encourage you to always have some with you. Using the wax is not a long-term solution, but you can place a small piece of wax on sharp pieces of your broken orthodontic appliances to protect your mouth until you can see your doctor. If you do not have any orthodontic wax, wax used for swimmer’s ear is a good substitute. This can be found at your local drug store.
  • You can use Anbesol, Orajel or another topical oral pain reliever to temporarily manage any discomfort from broken braces.
  • It’s a simple process to create a saline solution for oral care. You just need to mix 8 ounces of warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. This solution can be used to rinse your mouth, helping to keep problem areas clean and relieve some soreness.

The team at Orthodontic Associates is here for you — during any statewide stay-at-home orders, during social distancing, and at any other time. In fact, it’s our purpose to make sure your smile becomes everything you want it to be, and to that end, we’ll always find a way to help take care of our patients.

If you find yourself in need of urgent orthodontic care, please contact our office and we’d be happy to help you.