What to Do for an Orthodontic Emergency

What to Do for an Orthodontic Emergency

Traditional braces are a time-tested and proven way to correct misaligned, crowded, gapped, or crooked teeth. An experienced orthodontist knows that when you’re fitted with braces that you’re on track to improving your oral health, function, and appearance. However, in some instances, your treatment may be side-tracked by an orthodontic emergency. One of the most common kinds of orthodontic emergencies is a broken bracket. We want to explain what you can do in this situation to get the relief and results you want and need.

Why are brackets significant?

The bracket is a metal piece, or sometimes a transparent or opaque piece, that’s bonded to each tooth. It allows the archwire to pass through, thus creating the force that moves the teeth slowly and securely. The relationship between these two components of braces is integral to applying the necessary pressure to shift the teeth, as an orthodontist in Laguna Niguel, CA, like one from John Redmond Orthodontics can tell you. Consequently, when a bracket is broken, the needed tension is lost, and the teeth may return to the original condition.

What should you do for a broken bracket?

If you have a broken bracket, there are four steps you should consider taking. These include:

  1. Assess the damage: You’ll want to assess the damage thoroughly. Check to see if the wire is still attached to the bracket. Or, has the bracket become completely dislodged? After making an initial assessment, you can move forward.
  2. Make minor adjustments if possible: If a wire is protruding from the end, you can clip the exposed part very carefully. Use a pair of nail clippers and trim it as close to the edge of the teeth as possible. There will likely be a sharp end that may rub against the lips or teeth. In the event this happens, you can apply some dental wax as a temporary measure to hold it in place until you can see the orthodontist.
  3. Rinse your mouth: If your lips or cheek has been irritated or scratched by an exposed wire, you can rinse your mouth repeatedly with a salt-water solution to trigger healing.
  4. Contact an orthodontist: If you notice a malfunction with your braces, such as a broken bracket or any other orthodontic appliance failure, you should reach out to an orthodontist as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the issue, an orthodontic team member may schedule you to come in right away. If it’s more of a minor issue that can wait until your next regularly scheduled appointment, they can determine that as well.

What causes broken brackets?

Several common causes of broken brackets exist. These orthodontic appliances can be broken when you eat chewy or sticky food. Or, they may break when you bite into very hard foods. These foods can also cause an archwire to warp. This situation needs to be corrected, or it could slow down your results and even leave you vulnerable to regression.

Brackets can also get broken while participating in sports. Often, there is a chance of a collision, and trauma to the mouth can occur. To prevent any damage to your braces during sporting activities, it’s a good idea to have a custom mouthguard made.

If you need an evaluation for braces or your braces are compromised, don’t hesitate to reach out to an orthodontist to get the help you need.