How to Recognize an Orthodontic Emergency

How to Recognize an Orthodontic Emergency

Orthodontic emergencies can strike at any time. That said, it can be challenging to differentiate between an issue that can wait a day or two to be resolved, and a real orthodontic emergency. Today our Vancouver orthodontists share a few tips on how to tell if you're having an orthodontic emergency.

Is this pain normal?

Some discomfort is a normal part of any orthodontic treatment, and understanding what to expect in terms of soreness can help you to spot an orthodontic emergency, if one happens to you.

It's perfectly normal for orthodontic patients to feel some pain or discomfort periodically throughout their treatment. As your teeth are shifting to their proper positions, your mouth, teeth, and jaw are bound to feel a little sore at times.

Normal Orthodontic Discomfort vs Pain

Pain or discomfort is very common when braces are first fitted and treatment begins. Your mouth just needs some time to adjust to your new braces or dental appliance. Expect your teeth to feel tender when you first get your braces, and the brackets and wires may irritate the inside of your mouth a bit. While this is uncomfortable, it shouldn't last long. Over the course of a few days, your mouth will gradually grow accustomed to your braces, and you'll begin feeling normal again.

If you're experiencing pain due to irritation of your cheeks and lips, place a ball of orthodontic wax over the problematic bracket for instant relief. 

Following an adjustment appointment, or when you change to your next set of aligners, you will probably feel some discomfort. Your mouth simply needs time to adjust to the new position of your teeth and the pressure from braces or aligners, but this discomfort should also pass fairly quickly.

Is this an orthodontic emergency?

NOT Orthodontic Emergencies

  • Mild Pain or Inflammation - The examples of pain and discomfort mentioned above, are completely normal and should be expected when you begin straightening your teeth. Taking an over-the-counter pain killer, rinsing with salt water, or applying orthodontic wax to a troublesome bracket or wire should help to relieve your discomfort. Applying ice to your face can also help to soothe any inflammation.
  • Poking Scratching Wires - As your teeth gradually shift towards their new positions your wires may start to poke the inside of your cheek. To help get the irritating wire out of the way and relieve the irritation, use a blunt object, such as a spoon, to push it down temporarily, then contact your orthodontist to book an appointment to have the excess wire clipped off.

Yes! You Are Having an Orthodontic Emergency!

So now that you know what isn't an orthodontic emergency, here are a few examples of issues that are emergencies: 

  • Intense Pain - Intense pain that can’t be dispelled using the methods described above, is an orthodontic emergency. Contact your orthodontist straight away to book an emergency appointment. Severe pain is never normal!
  • A Broken Appliance - If your braces (or other orthodontic appliance) have broken, or if a wire is jabbing painfully into your cheek, and you can’t temporarily fix it yourself contact your orthodontic office right away to arrange an emergency appointment.

Once you have contacted your orthodontist's office and booked your emergency appointment, apply ice to the painful area to help soothe pain, or if a piece of your braces has broken off try to find it, and bring it to your appointment.

If you think you may have an orthodontic emergency contact your Vancouver orthodontist right away, to book an emergency appointment!

Free Download: Give Yourself Something To Smile About with Invisalign!

Enter your email to download a PDF with answers to the top questions about how Invisalign can help straighten your smile with confidence.