Emergency care

Orthodontic emergencies are rare, and not all of them require immediate attention by one of our orthodontists or hygienists. In fact, you may run into issues that you can solve yourself at home. Below is a list of potential problems and emergencies, and what you should do in each case.

Please note, if you are experiencing severe pain, or have had trauma to the mouth or are bleeding, please contact us immediately or visit your nearest urgent care facility.

Loose brackets, wires or bands

If your braces have come loose in any way, please contact us so we can determine the appropriate next steps.

If a loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out, we should schedule an appointment to fix right away. You can fix it temporarily using sterile tweezers to gently guide it back into its proper position. However, take care to prevent swallowing it or causing other injury.

Occasionally, the end of a wire will poke out and cause irritation. Use a cotton bud or a pencil to gently push the wire flat against the tooth, or cover it with wax for immediate relief. If it’s really bothering you before your next scheduled appointment, contact us so we can clip the wire.

The tiny elastics that hold the wire to the braces are called ligatures. If one comes off you may be able to put it back into place with some sterile tweezers. Sometimes, when one ligature pops off, others follow, so be sure to examine all ligatures.

Missing or broken ligatures should be brought to our attention so that we can advise whether it is necessary for you to be seen sooner.

To avoid loose and damaged braces, we encourage wearing a mouthguard for contact sports/activities and avoiding hard, crunchy foods that can knock the brackets off your teeth.

Emergency Care

Food caught between your teeth

Don’t worry, getting food caught between the teeth may be uncomfortable or unsightly, but it can be easily fixed with dental floss and isn’t an emergency. You might also try an interproximal brush (Pikster) or toothpick to dislodge the food stuck between the teeth and braces.

Emergency Care

Discomfort

It is normal for a patient to experience some discomfort for a day or two after braces are adjusted or aligners are changed. Rest assured that this discomfort is normal and temporary, and can be helped with over-the-counter pain relief.

In the rare case that your discomfort lasts more than a week, please contact us so we can discuss a way to fix it.

Emergency Care

Mouth sores

Some patients are susceptible to mouth sores. Although braces themselves do not cause mouth sores, they may be exacerbated by an irritation from braces.

While mouth sores are not an emergency, they can be very uncomfortable. Applying a small amount of topical anaesthetic to the mouth sore using a cotton bud can provide some fast relief. You can also treat it with warm salt water mouth rinses or Bonjela.

Emergency Care

Irritation of lips or cheeks

It can take a week or so for your mouth to adjust to your new appliance, and a little irritation is perfectly normal. If new braces are irritating your mouth, wax makes an excellent buffer. Simply pinch a small amount of wax, roll into a pea-sized ball and flatten it over the irritating bracket.

If you accidentally ingest the wax, don’t worry! It’s completely harmless.

Emergency Care

A piece of appliance is swallowed

It is extremely rare for a patient to swallow a piece of appliance. However, when it does happen, it can be fairly alarming. Try to remain calm. If you see the piece, try to remove it gently, but only if it won’t cause further harm.

If appropriate under the circumstances, examine the braces for problems that could have resulted from the missing piece, such as looseness or irritation and treat as specified above.

If there is excessive coughing or difficulty breathing, the piece could have been aspirated. If you are unable to see the piece and believe it may have been aspirated, please contact us immediately.

Emergency Care

Damaged appliances

A small percentage of patients will experience some form of damage to their orthodontic appliances during the course of treatment. When damage occurs, treatment duration is usually increased.

To keep damage to a minimum, the strongest available orthodontic glue is used to fix appliances to the teeth. However, it is also the patient’s responsibility to take care of their braces. While damage once can result in longer treatment times, repeated damage can incur extra costs!

Damage can strike at any time, but there appears to be a higher incidence of breakages around Christmas, Easter and school holidays. Please understand that these are our busiest times, and we apologise for any inconvenience in scheduling and appointment availability.

Emergency Care

We’re here to help

If you have an orthodontic emergency, contact us straight away on (02) 6251 3455. Even if you have an appointment in a few days time, it’s essential that you inform us of any damage to your appliance or your person so we can reschedule or adjust as needed.

If you have an emergency outside of our office hours, and are bleeding or experiencing oral trauma, please go to a 24 hour emergency clinic straight away.

Contact us

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Emergency Care

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