It’s not unusual to be nervous about embarking on the journey towards straighter, healthier teeth with orthodontic treatment. Whether it’s traditional metal braces or Invisalign’s clear aligner system, orthodontic treatment can take a little getting used to. Like most new experiences, it has a learning curve, but it’s nothing to fear!
One of the questions we hear most from our new patients at Andros Orthodontics is if treatment will be painful. It’s not at all uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when braces are first put on, or some minor aching when your teeth begin moving into the desired positions, but treatment should never hurt. That said, there are times a genuine orthodontic emergency may occur, although this is rare.
What counts as an orthodontic emergency?
There are only a few instances that would be considered an orthodontic emergency:
-Injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, etc.
-Swelling and infection or bleeding of the gums, mouth, and face
-Severe pain or discomfort to areas that haven’t responded to treatment
If you do start to develop symptoms like these, then you need to seek medical help immediately. We recommend you go to your orthodontist’s office first if at all possible, but if you believe that you need to go to the emergency room, don’t hesitate to go. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell when it is an emergency that requires immediate attention or if it’s something that can wait until the next time you can get to an orthodontist. Need help deciding? A good example of something you would need to go to the emergency room for is a fractured tooth because that would require immediate attention and treatment. Anything that has developed swelling and severe pain is also a good example of something that would require immediate attention, as it can be a sign of infection or disease. It’s fine if you have to go to the emergency room to get looked at over orthodontic injuries; your orthodontist can fix anything else that he or she needs to so that your treatment will continue as planned. At Andros Orthodontics, we want to be available to you as soon as you need. If you experience severe discomfort or have broken wire or a bracket, we want you to get in touch with us as soon as possible. We can try to fit you into an appointment as soon as possible to get whatever problem you’re having fixed. Fortunately, a lot of orthodontic problems can be relieved from home!
This does not mean every home remedy will work and that you can fix every orthodontic problem at home, but there are a few things you can do to alleviate pain and discomfort in the meantime. We recommend that you soothe the source of pain or discomfort immediately at home and then schedule an appointment with us to help fix any appliance that might be out of place or causing pain. But following these guidelines can assist you while you’re waiting to be seen. Also keep in mind that even if you’ve alleviated the discomfort that is caused by an orthodontic problem, such as a broken bracket or out-of-place wire, you will still need to come in and see us get it fixed.
Minor orthodontic emergencies
Here are a few of the most common emergencies you may have and how you should handle them:
Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires
This often happens when someone eats something hard or sticky that they’re not supposed to be eating during their treatment. When given an estimated time range that treatment will take, orthodontists don’t anticipate broken appliances when estimating treatment time. That means that problems like these will make treatment last longer, so really stick to your safe foods recommended to you by your orthodontist!
If the band or bracket is broken but is still attached to the wire, just leave it alone until you can visit the orthodontist. If it’s causing any irritation on the inside of your mouth, take some of the orthodontic wax given to you by your orthodontist and just cover the band or bracket with it to keep the slightly sharper edges from rubbing against your mouth. If it happens to completely detach from the wire, just save it until your appointment. If this does happen, give Andros Orthodontics a call at 509.792.1008, and we can walk you through how to get it fixed.
Misplaced wire, bracket, or tie
Once your teeth start to move, you might end up with the end of the wire poking out of the base bracket on one end, and that can be irritating to your cheeks! You can usually move the end into a better position by pushing it with a pencil eraser or a Q-tip or manipulate the situation with some tweezers. If it’s irritating still, you can cover it with orthodontic wax (seriously, this stuff is so great!) and that should help with discomfort. You still need to get in touch with us so that we can clip that wire or put it back into place.
Sometimes retainers can bend or break which causes pain and an improper fit. If this happens, stop wearing the retainer immediately and call us. If the retainer has broken into pieces, put all the pieces in a bag and bring them to the orthodontist’s office. We can sometimes fix a broken retainer, and if not, we can fit you for a new one.
General pain or loose teeth
As worrisome as it might sound, teeth do loosen up a little bit when going through orthodontic treatment. They shouldn’t loosen too much; it’s proof that your braces are working! If you do have sore teeth, there is a salt-water rinse that you can make yourself and use twice a day that might prove to be helpful. All you have to do is mix a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and swish for about 30 seconds; the heat and salt should help with soreness. You can also use a heating pad on the outside of your jaw to help relieve pain.
If you ended up swallowing a bracket or a band that has fallen off, don’t panic! It should just pass right through your system. The only thing you have to worry about is if you have swallowed a piece by accident and you have trouble breathing. If this happens, get help immediately.
We understand that orthodontic emergencies, although they are rare, they can be scary. It can be nerve-wracking when one happens, but staying calm and following these tips will help immensely. Always make sure to contact us as soon as you can when an emergency comes up, and we will schedule you an appointment as soon as possible. A beautiful smile shouldn’t be painful to achieve, if you are in the Pasco, WA area, please get in touch with Andros Orthodontics as soon as possible if you experience discomfort. We’ll do all that we can to get you the smile you want pain-free!