Your journey to a straighter smile will generally be smooth sailing, but unexpected hiccups, termed “orthodontic emergencies,” can arise. At Beam Orthodontics, we work very hard to set you up for success, but we understand sometimes accidents happen, or instructions slip the mind. No worries! We are here for your orthodontic emergencies! Understanding these situations, their implications, and how to handle them is vital for anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment.
What Is An Orthodontic Emergency?
Orthodontic emergencies, while rare, can be distressing and require immediate attention. Recognizing what qualifies as an emergency is the first step in addressing the situation effectively. Here are some common scenarios:
- Broken or Loose Braces: Metal and clear braces are sturdy but not invincible. An accidental bump to the mouth or biting into hard foods can cause a bracket to break or become loose. Damaged brackets can lead to soreness and may affect the alignment process.
- Protruding Wires: Sometimes, the end of a wire might come loose and poke the inside of your cheek, gum, or tongue. This friction can cause irritation, sores, and even minor cuts, making it uncomfortable to speak or eat.
- Lost or Broken Aligners and Retainers: Clear aligners are a more subtle way to move your teeth, and retainers are vital for maintaining the position of your teeth post-treatment. Not wearing either one allows your teeth time to shift backward, a process known as relapsing! If your aligners or retainers are lost or broken, quickly replacing them is crucial to prevent teeth from trying to return to their original locations.
- Severe Pain or Discomfort: Patients should expect mild discomfort after adjustments or wearing a new aligner. Anything worse that doesn’t subside after a few days with over-the-counter pain relievers might be a cause for concern.
Note: Not all orthodontic issues are emergencies. However, when in doubt, it’s always best to contact your orthodontist to determine the severity of the situation and get guidance on the next steps.
How To Prevent Orthodontic Emergencies
Preventing orthodontic emergencies is crucial for a smooth and effective treatment journey. Below are a few tips to avoid orthodontic issues.
- Firstly, regular check-ups with your orthodontist ensure that your braces or appliances are in optimal condition. These visits allow for timely adjustments and finding potential issues before they escalate.
- Diligently following your orthodontist’s care instructions can also make a significant difference. Example directions include avoiding hard, sticky, or crunchy foods that can damage braces and wearing mouthguards during sports or physical activities to protect against trauma.
- Proper oral hygiene, including careful brushing and flossing, prevents complications related to gum health and bracket breakage.
By taking these proactive steps, you can minimize the risk of emergencies and ensure your orthodontic treatment progresses seamlessly.
Why Are These Considered Emergencies?
Unless your orthodontic issue is associated with facial trauma (being accidentally hit in the fit with a softball, for example), you likely won’t be rushed to a hospital, so why do we call them “emergencies”?
Orthodontic emergencies got their name because, while not life-threatening, they can have significant implications for your treatment and overall oral health if not addressed promptly.
- Potential for Injury: Loose or broken components, like sharp wires, can injure the soft tissues of the mouth. If not treated, these injuries can lead to infections.
- Delays in Treatment Progress: Orthodontic appliances are meticulously designed to move teeth in specific directions over time. When a component is damaged or out of place, it can halt or even reverse the progress made, extending the duration of your treatment.
- Maintaining Oral Hygiene: Damaged orthodontic appliances can make cleaning your teeth challenging, increasing the risk of plaque buildup, cavities, and gum disease.
Whenever you notice something wrong with your appliances, we encourage you to contact our team ASAP. Please be as honest and clear about what happened and what your concerns are so we can manage the situation correctly. Remember, our job is to help you get to the orthodontic finish line as safely as possible, not to judge you. So, even if you broke your braces eating food that you aren’t supposed to eat or by not wearing your mouthguard, please know that you can trust us!
Tips For Caring For Your Orthodontic Emergency At Home
Did your problem arise over the weekend? While you’re out of town? For whatever reason, you are unable to see and get your issue resolved. What do you do now?
Experiencing an orthodontic emergency can be unsettling, but knowing the right steps to take can make a difference. If a wire is poking into your cheek or gum, you can try using the eraser end of a pencil to push it into a more comfortable position gently or cutting the wire with clean nail clippers. Over-the-counter pain relievers, internal-safe numbing products (like Orajel), and orthodontic wax can relieve minor aches.
Note: While it might be tempting, avoid attempting DIY fixes on loose brackets or wires. Do NOT try to remove the wire or glue down the bracket yourself. Leave the repairs to professionals to prevent further complications.
How Beam Orthodontics Can Help
As the only orthodontic specialist in the Penticton area, we prioritize your well-being and are fully prepared to address any orthodontic emergencies. Our clinic’s state-of-the-art equipment, affiliation with renowned dental associations, and Dr. Paxon’s extensive experience and qualifications ensure we can provide immediate and effective solutions. Whether it’s a broken bracket, a protruding wire, or any other concern, you can trust Beam Orthodontics to provide swift and expert care, keeping your treatment on track.
You’re never alone on your orthodontic journey when you’re with Beam Orthodontics! Whenever you have concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our team is always here and happy to help!