What to do if Your Braces Break: Handling Orthodontic Emergencies

It can be scary to be at home, school, or sports practice and feel a part of your braces loosen or even fall completely off your tooth. The good news is that most times these emergencies are minor. A bracket that’s come loose, a wire out of place, or even something falling out of your appliance can be easily fixed by your orthodontist. But here are a few general rules and tips for how to handle these situations in the moment and until you can get into the office for a visit. 


What are Some Common Orthodontic Emergencies?

Most emergencies involving braces center around a wire or rubber band coming detached. These two issues are minor and can be easily fixed by your orthodontist. Sometimes a bracket can come loose, and in extreme situations, a bracket could come completely off your tooth. These are times that you would keep the fallen bracket in a safe place and take it with you to your orthodontic appointment. 

Handling Emergencies at Home

Luckily, if any orthodontic emergencies occur while you’re at home your orthodontist is easily accessible. It’s important to make sure that you call and schedule an appointment to address any of the above issues as soon as you can. While this shouldn’t cause panic or an emergency run to the dentist, fixing them as soon as you can is imperative to successful treatment. 

Between the incident and your appointment, you can use orthodontic wax to alleviate any pain the broken part of your braces caused. Over-the-counter painkillers are also good for temporary issues like a lesion or cut on your cheek from broken appliances. 


Handling Emergencies while Traveling

If something breaks while you’re far from home, don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re comfortable and ready to make the most of your travels. When you aren’t at home it can be expensive and tiring to find an orthodontic specialist to deal with these minor emergencies. So, we have some small things to include on your packing list so that it’s not necessary. 

Orthodontic wax is important to travel with. Most minor pain and exposed sharp edges can be quickly neutralized by some orthodontic wax. If you run out or happen to forget your wax, most pharmacies carry replacement wax, and if you can’t find any, sugar-free gum works in a pinch. For loose wires, use a pencil with an eraser to push the displaced segment flush with your teeth before placing any wax. If wax doesn’t work at all, sterilized nail clippers or a wire cutting tool can be used to clip down the detached wire. Consult your orthodontist’s emergency line before cutting any loose wires!

If any sores or particularly painful cuts develop away from home, be sure to buy or pack some over-the-counter topical numbing gel. Orajel or Orabase help to numb the area until you get back home. 

Though rare, a true orthodontic emergency may occur while you are away. If you are in a level of pain that can’t wait for you to return home, you can contact the local dental society for orthodontic recommendations. Be sure to look at reviews and vet the care before proceeding. As always in a true emergency, call 911.

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