How to handle orthodontic emergencies

Orthodontic “emergencies” are an unfortunate part of any orthodontic treatment. Even with the best orthodontist and the highest quality braces one is bound to have one or more emergency trips to the orthodontic office during treatment.

Even though I am using the word emergency, complications with orthodontic treatment are rarely a true emergency. They are seldom life threatening and a quick visit to the office will address the problem.

The most common type of orthodontic “emergencies” include poking wires, loose brackets or bands, loose wires, or appliances. Poking wires occur quite frequently because as the teeth move so do the wires. This is specially the case during the initial few months of treatment because the wires are still very soft and a lot of tooth movement occurs. This is also the case when extractions are performed. As the spaces close the wires usually tend to get longer and stick out of braces on the back teeth. Orthodontic wax is the easiest way to correct poking wires. It can be applied to any part that is sharp or protruding until the wires can be adjusted at your next visit. A pencil eraser tip can also be used to gently tuck away sharp wires away from the tissues or gums.

Broken brackets or loose appliances are other examples of simple emergencies. They tend to occur mainly because proper diet guidelines were not followed and hard or sticky foods were consumed. A loose bracket will usually stay and slide on the wire. If that is the case you should leave it in place and secure it with wax until your next visit. If the bracket, band, or appliance comes out entirely, then wrap it with a tissue and bring it to your next visit.

Swallowing a bracket or band may sometime occur and is usually not a major concern. However, it can be life threatening if it is aspirated in the lungs which may cause breathing difficulty. In such instance please go to the emergency room immediately for proper evaluation. Please also inform your orthodontist as soon as possible.

Another orthodontic emergency is an accident or serious fall. Severe lacerations or trauma to the lips, gums, and teeth may result from such accidents requiring a trip to the emergency room and your orthodontist.

 

Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Diplomate of The American Board of Orthodontics. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation, please contact Dr. Salmassian’s office at Tel: 661-222-7444

 

 

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