Emergencies

Occasionally, your orthodontic appliances (braces, expander, etc.) may break or begin to “poke” your gum tissue. 99% of all appliance breakage can be prevented simply by being careful of what you eat. YOU SHOULD AVOID EATING HARD OR STICKY FOODS WHILE YOU HAVE APPLIANCES OR BRACES. Click on “What Foods Should I Avoid?” on our list below for more information.

If you are ever in severe discomfort due to appliance breakage, you need to call us that day so we can help you. Please understand that we will not always be able to schedule an after school appointment for an emergency visit. Here is a list of common concerns and what you should do in the event of an occurrence.

To make things easier, you can click the corresponding link below for more information on how to solve orthodontic problems, foods to stay away from and important information about sugary drinks.

Solving Orthodontic Problems

Foods To Stay Away From

Sugary Drinks

Below are some common questions that we have answered to help you if an emergency occurs. Click each question to reveal our answer.

What Foods Should I Avoid?

Although sturdy, stable and advanced, braces are orthodontic appliances that you need to treat with care. That means eating foods that are gentle on the brackets and wires that hold your braces together and in place. Generally, avoid all foods that are sticky, hard, or chewy. Soft foods are most recommended for those who wear braces because they are simply easier on your mouth hardware.

Foods to Avoid When Wearing Braces

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • Sticky and hard candy
  • Gum
  • Ice
  • Corn chips
  • Pretzels
  • Hard cookies or crackers
  • Sticky or hard chocolate

Also avoid biting into hard foods with your front teeth. Cut or break up hard foods such as:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Croutons
  • French/Italian bread
  • Fruit
  • Hard rolls
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Meat
  • Burgers
  • Sub sandwiches
  • Corn on the cob

Recommended Foods When Wearing Braces

  • Hulless popcorn
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Light crackers or cookies
  • Cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Melons
  • Grapes
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ravioli, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and other noodle dishes

Separator is out

If a separator (spacer) falls out a day or two before you are scheduled to receive your bands (silver ring around a molar), you do not need to have it replaced. If it falls out before then, call our office during regular business hours to schedule a quick appointment a few days before you receive your bands to replace the missing separator.

If you have an appliance attached to bands that come loose, do not remove the appliance and stop turning the expansion screw (if applicable). Contact our office during regular business hours to schedule an emergency appointment (see loose band procedure).

If an appliance which is attached to bands comes out completely and it won’t stay in, call our office or pager number (after business hours or weekends from 9:00a.m. to 9:00p.m.) to schedule an emergency visit within one to two days. If the appliance is left out for several days, you will lose the correction you have worked so hard to get! This is one of the few emergencies we will fix over the weekend. If you are able to “push” the appliance back onto your molars and it will stay, we can schedule an emergency visit for you during normal business hours (no need to page us if you are able to keep the appliance in the roof of your mouth.

Broken or Loose Lower Lingual Arch or Space Maintainer

This needs to be fixed fairly soon (within a few days) after it occurs. Call our off ice or for an emergency appointment. If the breakage occurs late at night or over the weekend, please wait to call our office during regular business hours.

Loose bracket

This is generally not a problem unless you are going to get your braces off soon. The bracket will generally stay attached to the wire. It may slide around a little, but that is okay. There is no need to call us after regular business hours or on the weekend for a loose bracket. If the bracket is causing discomfort, we will schedule you for a brief emergency appointment during regular office hours to remove it. The bracket generally will not need to be replaced immediately. Always notify us when a bracket is loose or comes off so we can note it in your chart.

Poking bracket

Place wax over the uncomfortable bracket. Be sure to dry the area first – the wax will stay on better. If the inside of your lips have a lot of sore spots, rinse several times a day with Peroxyl mouth rinse (available at most drug stores such as CVS or Walgreen’s and many large grocery stores). There is no need for you to call our office to schedule an emergency appointment unless the bracket is causing SEVERE pain.

Loose band

Contact our office during regular business hours to schedule an emergency appointment. A loose band needs to be recemented soon (within 1-2 days) after it becomes loose. If it becomes loose over the weekend, call us Monday morning to schedule an emergency appointment.

"O" Ring off

As long as your next appointment is not to get your braces taken off and the missing o-ring is not causing you pain, you do not need to call or come in for an emergency appointment. We will replace the missing ring at your next scheduled appointment. If you look closely at your bracket, you may notice that it also has a steel tie on it.

Chain elastic broken or off

Call our office during regular business hours for a short emergency appointment. This should be fixed within a few days after it occurs. If it occurs over the weekend, call our office Monday morning.

Steel tie loose or off

Unless your next appointment is to get your braces taken off or the missing steel tie is causing you pain, we typically do not need to see you for an emergency appointment. Please call our office during regular business hours to make sure that we do not need to replace it before your next scheduled appointment.

Poking steel tie

This is a problem which you can fix yourself. Take a pencil eraser and gently “push” the steel tie towards the tooth surface until it is no longer poking you. Place wax over the area if necessary.

Loose or missing K.hook

Discontinue wearing your rubber bands. Contact our office during regular business hours to schedule a brief emergency visit. If it occurs over the weekend, call us on Monday.

Poking archwire

Place wax on the affected area and call us during regular business hours to schedule a brief emergency appointment. If it occurs over the weekend, call our office Monday morning.

Broken archwire

Call our office during regular business hours to schedule an emergency visit. If it happens on the weekend, call us Monday. (Use wax if the wire is poking)

If you lose your rubber bands

Call our office during regular business hours so we can have them ready for you when you come by. If you are unable to come in before we close, we are more than happy to place them outside our door or, for our “long distance” patients, we will mail them to you.

If you can't remember how to wear your rubber bands

Do not continue wearing them if you are unsure how they are to be attached to your braces. Call our office during regular business hours. Someone will then pull your chart, verify your rubber band wear, and return your call.

Lost or broken retainer

Call our office during regular business hours (if on the weekend, call us Monday) to schedule an appointment to take an impression. The sooner you come in for an appointment, the less you teeth will shift around. Your new retainer will be charged to you at our usual rates. You will receive a new retainer within 1-2 weeks.

Retainers Not Fitting Properly

Call our office to schedule a retainer adjustment appointment. NOTE: The primary reason why retainers make your teeth sore is because you are not wearing them often enough. If your retainer feels tight for more than 5 minutes after you put it in, you need to wear it more often.

Remedies for Discomfort

TIME AND ORTHODONTICS: In the world of orthodontics, time moves much more slowly than in the “regular” world. “Very soon”, orthodontically speaking, means within one or two days. “Soon” means within two to five days. Unless a major trauma occurs, most emergencies can wait at least twelve to twenty-four hours (depending on the time of day) before they should be attended to. It is important to keep perspective of what an orthodontic emergency means. No one has ever died from a loose band or a missing “O” ring. We will attend to your emergency based upon what has happened and how much discomfort you are in.