Orthodontic emergencies are quite a bother. Picture the following: you were minding your own business, you just had to reject a perfectly good bowl of popcorn during movie night, and suddenly you feel something odd in your mouth. There’s some unusual scratching or poking from within your mouth.
You go to the bathroom to check yourself in the mirror, and you notice that there’s a piece of stainless steel wire poking against the inside of your cheeks.
Should you call your orthodontist right there? Can you push the wire out of the way or tuck it in under the archwire?
Let’s think of another scenario. You’ve been feeling some pain for a couple of days. Even as you take some over-the-shelf painkillers, the pain is still there. Now, after some days, you notice the pain won’t go away and that your face is swelling.
Should you go to the dentist? Can my orthodontist recommend anything? Should I call emergency services?
As part of our dental care, we want to help patients undergoing orthodontic treatment correctly identify dental and orthodontic emergencies when they arise. Knowing which situations require emergency care can save your life and teeth. Learning to differentiate between emergencies and minor problems will help you react accordingly and avoid accidentally prolonging your orthodontic treatment.
What Counts as a Dental Emergency
First, we should talk about the more general situations that can put you at severe risk. Many patients are worried if they suffer an accident after their dentist’s office has closed. Some others are concerned that they might be bothering their dentist without legitimate reasons.
If you are worried something might be wrong, you have sufficient reason to ask for professional help. Still, while some situations are not necessarily an emergency, others do require immediate emergency dental care.
We are referring to an accident where your teeth suffer direct dental trauma. If you had any such accidents and you fear your tooth is now fractured, chipped, or cracked, call your dentist. This is especially important if you feel your tooth is loose after receiving a hit directly to your jaw area or your teeth. Loose teeth are a reason for concern, so contact your dentist as soon as you can.
Try to clean your mouth with warm water and use a cold compress to reduce swelling after getting hit. You could likewise take an over-the-counter painkiller to help with the pain until you go to the dentist’s office.
Oral Infection and Abscessed Tooth
This is a life-threatening situation. In some cases, an impacted tooth can develop a periodontal abscess, or as their name suggests, it can develop due to periodontal disease. An infection below the gum line immediately harms the soft tissues surrounding your tooth and could erode the bone tissue holding your teeth in place.
You may develop a fever, increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks, and constant toothache. The more severe cases lead to swelling of your face and an infection that could spread to other parts of your body.
Get in contact with emergency services and your dentist to coordinate appropriate care. Try warm salt water rinses to draw out the pus and reduce the severe pain.
Reviewing Orthodontic Emergencies
These emergencies are, unsurprisingly, related to orthodontic appliances. Most situations are not as alarming as the ones described before, but they are bothersome. Here’s a shortlist to sum it up, and we’ll review each in a little more detail. You could also check this material from our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
- Loose or broken brackets, wires, or band
- Mouth sores
Loose or Broken Brackets, Wires, or Band
Let’s talk brackets first. Brackets are small piece bonded to your teeth. The bonding agent may fail, or a piece of hard or crunchy food could have pushed the bracket off-center. Make sure you get in touch with your orthodontist and listen to their recommendations.
The brackets may also have rotated. A home fix is to grab a pair of sterile tweezers, slide it to the space between two adjacent teeth, rotate it into the right position, and move it back to its original position. In any case, ask your orthodontist for help and determine when you can go to their office for help.
On occasion, an end of your archwire might get loose and poke at the inside of your cheeks. The best thing to do here is grab a q-tip to push the poking wire towards your teeth. If you cannot force it into a comfortable position, you could clip the wire; however, it’s best to use gauze around the wire to prevent any accidental swallowing when you clip the wire.
The ligatures or bands holding the archwire in place can also become loose. If you notice any such case, make sure to review the other ligatures to prevent accidental swallowing. You could try to reposition it with some clean tweezers, but you should get in touch with the orthodontist to have them replaced.
The constant brushing against a metal bracket and wire can irritate your mouth’s soft tissues. Fortunately, this is not a life-threatening emergency, and you can easily solve it. In these cases, you could use a little bit of orthodontic relief wax as a protective barrier between your appliance’s parts and your mouth’s soft tissues. Don’t worry if you accidentally swallow some of this orthodontic relief wax; it won’t harm you.
Neither your braces nor aligners will cause mouth sores. Still, they can exacerbate due to the aforementioned irritation. Common areas affected by these mouth sores include your lips and tongue. Get in touch with your orthodontist about the topical ointments you can use to relieve the discomfort.
Get Help During Orthodontic Emergencies
We offer our California friends all the help we can during their orthodontic emergencies. If you live in Natomas, Gold River, or Auburn, you can trust the team at Markham Orthodontics to help you out when you need us the most.
Still, we would remind you to get in touch with emergency services if you face situations marked by severe pain, uncontrollable bleeding, or face swelling. We will do our part and help your treatment stay on track, but the most crucial thing during life-threatening emergencies is that you receive appropriate care at a moment’s notice.
For the other situations we described in this article, you can come to our office for a complete fix and continue your journey towards a healthy and beautiful smile. Get in touch with us on our phones, or set an appointment online.