5 Orthodontic Emergencies

Orthodontic emergencies

How to handle orthodontic emergencies:


While only a minimal percentage of orthodontic emergencies truly require immediate attention by an orthodontist, most situations can be treated at home. If you experience discomfort or pain with your orthodontic treatment, we strongly recommend reaching out to us as soon as possible to repair the issue. In the meantime, here are a few orthodontic emergencies that can be temporarily treated at home:

When my metal wire rings (ligs) or rubber bands (colors) come off, what do I do?

The tiny wires and small rubber bands on your braces hold the wire to your brackets. If one of these rubber bands came off, you can reattach it using sterile tweezers. You can also use sterile tweezers to remove a loose wire. If the wire is not loose but is sticking into the lip, you can bend it back down with a q-tip, or the end of a pen.

Make sure to communicate these issues with your orthodontist because if one ligature pops off, it is likely that others could follow as well.

What do I do about mouth sores?

Mouth sores and ulcers can be extremely uncomfortable, and some individuals are more susceptible to them than others. These mouth sores are not caused by braces but can be irritated by them. These sores can occur on the tongue, lips, or cheeks. To alleviate the discomfort, apply a small amount of topical anesthetic to the sores using a cotton swab. You can also use warm salt water to rinse a couple of times a day.

How do I relieve lip and cheek irritation from braces?

The easiest way to relieve irritation is by using a small piece of wax to cover the irritating metal. To do so, pinch off a piece of wax the size of a pea, flatten the wax, and completely cover the irritating metal with it. The metal can sometimes irritate you while you are eating; if you use the nonmedicinal wax while you’re eating and accidentally ingest it, don’t panic, it is harmless!

How do I deal with a protruding braces wire?

Sometimes the end of your wires can be displaced. This can lead to irritation of your cheeks and gums. If you have a protruding wire, using a Q-tip to press the wire down flat against the teeth. If this does not relieve it, use wax to cover the wire to prevent further irritation. In an extremely irritating case, and you cannot see an orthodontist, you may clip with a very sharp pair of wire clippers. This should be a very last resort, as clipping the wire in your mouth could cause you to swallow the sharp metal piece.

Make sure to consult with your orthodontist before doing so. Please give the office a call if the irritation continues so we can get you in ASAP. If you have made yourself comfortable, give us a call and we can get you in in a few days to make sure everything is still fully engaged. 

How do I fix loose braces brackets?

Brackets are fixed to the teeth using a special adhesive. These can be knocked off by eating hard, sticky, chewy foods or if you are struck in the mouth. It is important to speak with your orthodontist as soon as possible to determine the best next steps to take. If you cannot go into the office and your bracket is rotated or sticking out, you can temporarily fix it.

To put the bracket back in place, use sterile tweezers to move the bracket across the wire until it is situated between two teeth. Rotate the bracket into position and move it to the center of the tooth.  If it starts to rub, place wax over the bracket. Take extra care to protect from swallowing any of the metal pieces. If you have an upcoming appointment, give us a call and let us know that a bracket is off so we can have what we need ready to repair it!


Experiencing orthodontic emergencies? Always be sure to contact your orthodontist first. If you are a BRO patient, please call 828.585.6045 to discuss what the next steps should be. We are happy to help!