Do I Need Urgent Orthodontic Care?

Tooth and Medicine chest

With all of the craziness brought into our world with the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to take some time and talk to you about urgent orthodontic care. We understand that orthodontic problems happen, and you’ll be happy to hear that they happen for almost everyone at some point. Unfortunately for you, that time may be now.

If you’re having trouble with your orthodontic gear, you’ll probably need to visit your orthodontist. Idaho Falls offices like Randall Orthodontics are here for you if you need care at this time. If you are worried about your routine office visits and standard care schedule, you can contact our office and we’ll be happy to work with you. We’re also available to help you with your urgent orthodontic needs.

As always, you need to take good care of your braces, retainer, or other orthodontic appliance. But no matter how careful you are, we understand that you may find yourself in need of urgent orthodontic care at some point, and that’s okay. The current situation may have an effect on the timing of your care, but we’ll always be here for you when you need us.

If you feel like you may need urgent orthodontic care, we encourage you to stay calm. Worry has never made anything better or easier, and panic is never helpful. In these situations, the best thing you can do is take some deep breaths, remain calm, take care of the immediate problem, and contact our office to find out what further steps you need to take.

True Dental Emergencies

dentist and patient with dental x-ray machine - Idaho Falls orthodontist

You’ll be happy to know that most orthodontic problems — no matter how painful — aren’t generally considered a serious emergency. However, a true dental emergency should be handled very quickly and can be complicated by orthodontic appliances. Below are the key symptoms that would typify a true dental emergency.

  • Severe trauma to the mouth, teeth, or face.
  • Infection of the mouth, gums, or face, which usually presents with bleeding, swelling, and pain.
  • Unbearable oral pain and fear for your well-being.

Swallowing Part of Your Orthodontic Gear

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often and it’s not generally as serious as the problems listed above. It’s important to note, however, that if you’ve accidentally swallowed part of your braces or retainer, you’ll need to seek immediate medical attention, especially if the piece is metal and/or sharp.

Common Minor Orthodontic Emergencies

Broken Wires

Because they are necessary for your braces to function, broken wires should be replaced in a timely manner by your orthodontist. One of the worst things about a broken wire is that it may end up poking your cheek, gums, or mouth and become painful. If the broken end of the wire is poking you, you may want to cut the end of it off. This can be done using small pliers, wire cutters, or nail clippers that have been sterilized with boiling water or rubbing alcohol. You can also use a small piece of orthodontic wax to protect your mouth from the wire until you can see your doctor.

Loose Brackets

Brackets are the metal or ceramic pieces that are attached to your teeth using a special resin. This resin can sometimes weaken over time. More commonly, the resin is weakened or broken when a patient chooses to eat hard or sticky foods. If a bracket comes completely off, hold on to it and bring it with you when you schedule an urgent orthodontic appointment. If the piece is still partially attached and poking you, you can use orthodontic wax to protect your mouth until your appointment.

Loose Bands

Bands are the metal rings placed around some of your teeth as part of your braces system. If one of these bands loosens, your doctor will need to replace or reattach it. If the band comes completely off, you should not try to put it back into place yourself. Instead, keep it safe until you are able to see your Idaho Falls orthodontist.

Broken Retainer

A broken retainer isn’t an urgent emergency. However, if you’ve broken your retainer or noticed that it is damaged, you need to stop using it immediately. Then, you’ll want to make an appointment to get it replaced soon because your teeth could start shifting without the regular use of your retainer.

Urgent Orthodontic Care Tips

man giving thumbs up at dental office

We understand that sometimes you just can’t get into the orthodontist as soon as you would like — especially during the current pandemic. That’s why we wanted to list a few tips you can use to help take care of the problem short term.

  • You can use a cotton swab or clean pencil eraser to gently move bent or broken wires into more comfortable positions. Before doing so, make sure to thoroughly dry the area to prevent slipping. Also, you should be careful while doing this because too much stress could lead to other problems.
  • Remember that orthodontic wax is your friend in an urgent situation. As such, we encourage you to always have some with you. Using the wax is not a long-term solution, but you can place a small piece of wax on sharp pieces of your broken orthodontic appliances to protect your mouth until you can see your doctor.
  • You can use Anbesol or another topical oral pain reliever to temporarily manage any discomfort from broken braces.
  • It’s a simple process to create a saline solution for oral care. You just need to mix 8 ounces of warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. This solution can be used to rinse your mouth, helping to keep problem areas clean and relieve some soreness.
  • If a broken wire is causing painful problems, you can snip off the end of the wire to make it easier to manage. You can do this using small, sterilized pliers, wire cutters, or nail clippers.

Our team is here for you — during a statewide stay at home order and at any other time. In fact, it’s our purpose to make sure your smile becomes everything you want it to be. To that end, we’ll always find a way to help take care of you, our patient. If you find yourself in need of urgent orthodontic care in Idaho Falls, please contact our office and we’d be happy to help you.

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