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How To Handle Orthodontic Emergencies When At Home and While Traveling

It’s always normal for braces patients to be worried about something going wrong, especially when they’re new to having brackets and wires outfitted within their mouth. Although the vast majority of our patients sail through their orthodontic treatment without ever experiencing any issues, it’s still important to know what to do in the very rare case that an orthodontic emergency does occur.

Usual orthodontic mishaps are minor, including things like irritation or a broken bracket, and these are always easily fixable. But of course we want all of our patients and their parents to be fully at ease when it comes knowing what to do when the unexpected ends up occurring, so in this article we’re going over some orthodontic emergency information and care tips that will help patients while they’re at home or traveling.

Common Braces Issues and How to Handle Them

Although a true braces or Line-M-Up™ emergency is very unlikely, these types of issues will be about a patient’s comfort and ensuring that their treatment doesn’t get too far off course.

The following are some of the common braces issues you should know about, and how to address them:

Getting food stuck within braces: This may not be deemed a true emergency, but it’s still very annoying while traveling or being away from home. If you’re at home, the best thing to do would be to utilize waxed dental floss, a special orthodontic flosser, or an interproximal brush to break up the food and poke it loose out of your braces. This type of situation is why we recommend patients to carry disposable flossers and a travel toothbrush while they’re at school or away from home. But if you’re not adequately prepared and away from home, you can still simply utilize a toothpick to eradicate the trapped food. When you do this just make sure you’re giving your mouth a good rinse afterwards!

Poking wire: When a wire pokes itself out and begins rubbing against a patient’s cheek, it’s always very uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s a good idea to utilize a cotton swab or rubber eraser to push the wire out of the way so it’s not rubbing up against your cheek in this situation. When you do this you’ll need to dry your wire with a tissue! Another option is to use a ball of dental wax and place it in the spot that’s bothersome. If you’re traveling then these tips may get you by for a few days until you can get into the office, but if you’re extremely uncomfortable feel free to contact us and we’ll provide some more options/personalized instructions.

Loose or Broken Bracket: There are many different scenarios that can lead to a damaged bracket, and it’s first and foremost important to not panic when this type of situation occurs. Most damaged brackets can be covered with dental wax to temporarily hold them in place and prevent gum irritation. You can also sometimes utilize sterilized tweezers to shift the bracket back into its proper positioning, but for the most part a loose or broken bracket will necessitate a visit to Dr. Karpac’s office prior to your next scheduled appointment.

Rubber band (ligature) pop offs: It may be a rare occurrence, but every now and again the little wire ties or elastic bands that hold your wires and brackets together can pop off. In this situation you can sterilize your tweezers and try to very gently put the rubber band back in its proper position, but if this doesn’t work or you don’t feel comfortable attempting this then it’s perfectly ok to give us a call and we’ll help you out as quickly as possible.

Lost Separator: There aren’t any DIY tips we can provide when it comes to a lost separator, and this type of situation simply just happens sometimes. When this occurs, you should call us and we’ll help you schedule an appointment to have your separator replaced.

Lost Line-M-Up™ Aligner: It’s never fun to lose an aligner, which is why we always recommend that you keep your case on you at all times so you’ll have a safe place to put your trays when you take them out. If you do end up losing an aligner, then it’s important that you call us so we can order you a new set. If you lose an aligner while traveling you should still give us a call ASAP so we can help you best determine your next steps. It’s important not to simply skip to your next provided set of trays because each aligner set is designed to move your teeth in unique ways.

More Serious Orthodontic Emergencies

The following emergencies are on a much bigger level than the previous scenarios, and they include:

Swallowing an appliance piece: This is a much more serious emergency than the previous situations on this list, and when this occurs you should have someone shine a flashlight into your throat immediately. If you can’t see the appliance piece and you’re experiencing any kind of trouble breathing, then it’s likely that the appliance piece has been aspirated. This means you should go to your nearest emergency room as quickly as possible.

Traumatic injury: We always recommend that kids wear mouthguards when playing sports to prevent serious dental injuries, but if you do incur a serious blow to the mouth while wearing braces then it’s likely that you may need to get stitches via an emergency room visit. If a tooth gets knocked out, chipped or loosened, then you’ll need to reach out to your general dentist immediately. When a tooth is knocked out, it can typically be saved within an hour of the incident if you can locate an emergency dentist quick enough. Once you’ve handled the immediate situation at hand, be sure to reach out to us so we can help you fix any damaged hardware.

Contact Dr. Karpac and Our Team For More Information About Orthodontic Emergencies

Our team is always available to help out our patients when it comes to preventative measures and learning more about what to do in the rare case that an emergency situation occurs. We know that we can help out with the majority of orthodontic emergencies, but in some rather serious emergencies it’s always best to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

Feel free to contact us to get in touch with Dr. Karpac and our team to learn more about how to prevent orthodontic emergencies!

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