Braces Emergency: What Do I Do?

Braces and a bolt

The simple answer for any type of braces emergency is, call your orthodontist. In the event that any part of your orthodontic appliance breaks or comes loose, your first course of action should always be to contact your orthodontist to see what they recommend.

In some instances, depending on whether or not there is any discomfort and treatment is not interrupted, that course of action may be to wait until your regularly scheduled appointment.

Even if your braces emergency occurs outside of normal office hours (as most emergencies always seem to), before you panic take a deep breath. The good news is that emergencies, however uncomfortable they might be, don’t happen all that often. When they do, discomfort aside, they are not going to be serious when addressed promptly.

Here is a list of some of the potential issues that you might experience and what you can do to temporarily fix them.

Broken Braces (or brackets)

Should your bracket break—usually meaning that it is not attached to the tooth and is either off centered, rotated so that the O ring isn’t visible or sliding freely on the archwire—there are some things you can do to stabilize it temporarily.

If the bracket is off centered, use some dental wax to secure it and make an appointment to see your orthodontist.

If the bracket has rotated, using tweezers (preferably sterilized) slide the bracket to a space between two teeth (interproximal), turn it around and slide it back to where it belongs. Use a ball of dental wax to hold it in place until you can see your orthodontist.

Poking wires

Occasionally, archwires or wire ligatures (the ties) might start to poke the soft tissues inside your mouth. Not to worry. Let your doctor know. You can take a couple of temporary measures to stop the archwire or ligature from poking you and the discomfort.

  • Using a pencil eraser or Q-tip, you can reposition the wire and push it back towards the tooth
  • Put dental wax over it (until your appointment)
  • For archwires, as an extreme measure if both the other options fail, you can snip it with a pair of sharp clippers. NOTE: to reduce the risk of swallowing the piece clipped off, wrap gauze (or tissue paper) around the end that is being clipped.

Band on the Run

If a band (the metal ring usually around the back teeth) comes loose, let your doctor know. Although there is no immediate or pressing concern, over the long term it will allow those acid-forming agents responsible for demineralization (enamel erosion) into the space that has been created. This can eventually lead to decalcification (white spots).

If it comes out completely, hold onto it and bring it to your next scheduled appointment.

Swallowing Appliances

Don’t panic. This doesn’t happen as often as you might think. With it still being attached to the archwire, it is likely to stay on there once you have noticed it has come off your tooth. But if it does come off, a bracket is a fairly small appliance, so once it enters your digestive tract it will pass through your system relatively quickly.

The same applies for rubber ligatures. And dental wax might not be pleasant to taste, but it is harmless.

In the event that you are experiencing a braces emergency, contact one of our helpful staff members at any of Orthodontic Associates’ nine convenient locations around Baltimore so that one of our experienced doctors can get your braces back in tip top shape and you on your way to your perfect smile.


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