Orthodontic emergencies can happen at any time, so it's important to know what to do when they occur. Today, we explain what you should do if you think you are experiencing an orthodontic emergency.
Determine if The Pain Is Normal
It's normal to experience a bit of discomfort during orthodontic treatment, and understanding the level of soreness you can expect during treatment can help you determine if you are having an orthodontic emergency and the steps you should take to help alleviate the pain.
It's normal for patients to experience some pain or discomfort during orthodontic treatment. As the teeth shift into their corrected positions, patients are bound to experience a little bit of soreness in their mouth, teeth, and jaws.
Usual Orthodontic Discomfort or Pain
It's very common to experience pain or discomfort when you first get your braces fitted at the start of your treatment. Your mouth requires a little time to adjust to your new braces or dental appliance. Plan on your teeth feeling tender when you first get your braces. The brackets and wires could also irritate the inside of your mouth a little. While this is uncomfortable, it shouldn't last long. Over several days, your mouth will gradually become accustomed to the feeling and presence of your braces, and you'll start feeling normal again.
If the pain you are feeling is from lip or cheek irritation, put a ball of orthodontic wax over the troublesome bracket to get relief almost instantly.
After your adjustment appointment, or when you switch to your next set of aligners, you will most likely experience some discomfort. Your mouth just requires time to adjust to the new position of your teeth and the pressure from braces or aligners, however, this discomfort should go away relatively quickly.
Assess The Situation (Is This an Emergency?)
When It Isn't an Orthodontic Emergency
- Mild Pain or Inflammation - The pain and discomfort examples detailed above, are completely normal and should be expected when you first start your treatment. You can help alleviate this pain by taking an over-the-counter pain killer, rinsing with salt water, or placing orthodontic wax on the problematic bracket or wire. You also might be able to help soothe inflammation by applying ice to your face.
- Poking Scratching Wires - While your teeth shift gradually into their new positions your wires might poke the inside of your cheek. To help move the wire irritating you out of the way and relieve the irritation, you can use a blunt object, like a spoon, to push it down temporarily, then contact your orthodontist to schedule an appointment so they can clip off the excess wire.
When You Are Having an Orthodontic Emergency
Here are some examples of orthodontic emergencies and what you should do if any of these situations arise:
- Intense Pain - Intense pain that you can’t alleviate with the methods listed above, is considered an orthodontic emergency. Call your orthodontist immediately to schedule an emergency appointment. Severe pain is not normal!
- A Broken Appliance - If your braces (or other orthodontic appliance) break, or if a wire is painfully jabbing into your cheek, and you can’t temporarily fix it yourself contact your orthodontic office straight away to book an emergency appointment.
After you have contacted your orthodontist's office and arranged your emergency appointment, apply ice to the area that hurts to help soothe the pain, or if a piece of your braces has broken off try to locate it, and take it with you to your appointment.