When to worry and when not to with an orthodontic emergency

All orthodontic treatments take some getting used to. It’s not uncommon to experience initial discomfort when your appliances are put in, and some minor aches in your teeth as they shift to their new positions.

But an orthodontic emergency is different. If you think you’re experiencing an emergency, the best thing to do is to determine how severe the problem is. There are a few types of orthodontic emergencies, but many problems are not as urgent as you might think.

A true orthodontic emergency would be any of the following:

  • Infection/swelling of the gums, mouth, or face
  • Trauma to the teeth, mouth, or face
  • Intense, unmanageable pain.

If you are experiencing any of these, please seek help right away. Dr. Riesenberger is available 24/7 for orthodontic emergency care. Contact us at 215-968-5471.

3 Types of Orthodontic Issues

  1. Mouth Sores

orthodontic emergencyThe brackets on traditional braces can sometimes create mouth sores. They may appear on your lips, tongue, or inside your cheek and are uncomfortable. The good news is that a simple topical anesthetic can help you heal and prevent infection. If you want to prevent the reappearance of these sores, you can apply wax to the rough areas of your braces.

  1. Elastics (Rubber Bands) Breaking

The elastics hold the wire to the bracket so that the wires have enough force to move your teeth. If the elastic comes off, try putting it back with sterilized tweezers. If the wire is sticking into your lip you can bend it back, but be careful. You can use heavy nail clippers to cut a poking wire in the most convenient area and slide that portion of the wire out of your mouth. If it pops off or breaks, others may follow suit. Should that happen, call your orthodontist office! Do the same if your brackets come loose. They can loosen or break if you get hit in the mouth while playing sports. The best thing to do is to contact your orthodontist to have it examined and fixed.

  1. 3. Tooth Pain and Loosening

It might be a bit scary if you realize your teeth are slightly loose from the orthodontic treatment, but that’s normal. This actually shows the treatment is working because your teeth are moving where they’re supposed to be! You might also experience tenderness right after braces are adjusted. It’s okay to use an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen to reduce the soreness. You can also initiate the healing process by doing twice-a-day salt-water rinses. Use about one tsp of salt in an eight-ounce glass of warm water and rinse for 30 seconds or a minute. You can also place a warm washcloth outside the jaw for relief.

You’ll be glad to know that actual orthodontic emergencies are rare. But if you’re having real problems such as the top three above, don’t wait. Call our office right away for a visit with Dr. Riesenberger. When you call, be sure to be as detailed as possible explaining your symptoms so that we can determine whether it is a real emergency.

For more tips on types of orthodontic emergency, check out this list.

Or, learn more about adult orthodontics.