Orthodontic Emergencies


Emergencies happen. The following information is meant to ease your mind regarding some of the more common orthodontic emergencies that can occur. For patients with braces, emergencies tend to be relatively infrequent and usually not severe. Still, discomfort from an issue with your braces can happen and we want to be there for you. Below is a list of the more common problems that can occur and solutions to help you deal with them if you cannot come to our offices and be seen right away. If at any time you have concerns trying any of these solutions yourself, give us a call and we’ll walk you through it.

Orthodontic Emergency Flyer >


In most cases, broken or loose braces aren’t considered an urgent problem. The first thing you should do if you notice that one of your brackets is loose or broken is to call us. Know that a loose bracket may spin around on the wire but because it is attached to the wire and by an elastic, it is unlikely that you will swallow it.

The quick fix:
Take a little bit of your dental wax and press it against the loose bracket and your tooth. This will keep the bracket from moving around until you can come into our office.


If the band that is bonded to your back tooth becomes loose, there’s no need to panic. Call us and set up an appointment right away for us to rebond your loose band back to your tooth. The reason we need to see you so quickly is that the band is normally cemented to your tooth with an adhesive that seals the inner ring of the band off from saliva and plaque. If you wait too long bacteria may enter into the space between your tooth and the band. This could cause your tooth to develop a white spot on the tooth’s surface and cause damage to the enamel.

The quick fix:
Unfortunately, there isn’t one. The best thing you can do is call us right when you notice that the band is loose and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.


As teeth move, the wire of your braces has nowhere to go except out the back of the molar band area. This happens a lot for people who are trying to close a gap in their teeth or having their bite corrected.

The quick fix:
All you need to do is apply a little dental wax to the poking wire. This should protect your cheek from being caught on the end of the poking wire. If this doesn’t fix it, call our office and make an appointment. We’ll take care of it right away.


We wish we could tell you that getting braces doesn’t hurt, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Many patients experience pain 4-6 hours after getting their braces or having an adjustment. Then, over the next few days, the pain will gradually increase. After another 3-5 days, the pain will start to go away. Know this, the pain you may experience won’t last forever.

The quick fix:
We recommend taking over the counter pain medication like Tylenol and Ibuprophen before and after getting an adjustment.


Just because you have braces doesn’t mean you should stop playing sports, wind instruments or living your life. Injuries can happen regardless of your effort to avoid them. If you do experience a significant dental injury, you should immediately see an emergency doctor and a dentist.

The good news:
In many dental injuries, braces have been known to help prevent the loss of any teeth because the wires and braces provide stability to your teeth.


Is this an emergency? Well, that depends on where you are in your treatment process. If you have just had your braces removed, losing your retainer could mean that your teeth shift back to their old position relatively quickly. Call us when you realize that your retainer is lost or broken so that we can get you a replacement right away.

The good news:
If you’ve been out of braces for a while, your teeth are in a relatively stable position and getting your retainer replaced immediately isn’t as much of an emergency.


Sometimes we use metal wires to tie the archwire to the brackets or bands. When you brush your teeth or eat these metal wires can become accidentally redirected and cause irritation to your lips or cheeks. If this happens, place dental wax on the poking metal tie to ease the irritation and call us so that we can help you.

The quick fix:
You can push the poky wire back into place using the end of a pencil eraser.


In general, braces have a reputation of feeling rough against your cheeks, lips, and tongue – especially right after you get them on. This can cause soreness and some discomfort. Know that this is totally normal. Over time your tissues will develop callouses to protect your mouth from this irritation. But in the beginning, we recommend using dental wax on the areas that are most painful.

The quick fix:
To alleviate the pain right away go to your local drugstore and pick up a topical anesthetic like Oragel® or Orabase®.

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