Common Orthodontic Problems

If something on your braces or appliance (expander, headgear, forsus spring, space maintainer, bonded retainer, etc.) becomes loose, breaks or is poking, it’s usually not an emergency and can be fixed at home. Below are some simple at-home solutions to common orthodontic issues…

PROTRUDING / POKING WIRE or LOOSE / BROKEN WIRE  Wires get longer in between your orthodontic adjustment visits. Dry the area off as best you can and use wax. You can also try to push the wire down using the tip of a pencil eraser. The early wires are very flexible and can come out of the hole on the last bracket. Try to put it back into the hole using tweezers or simply just tuck it under the hook. If it’s not hurting you, it’s OK just to leave it out! If a wire is broken and is bothering you, cut it with fingernail clippers or if all else fails, you can gently pull the wire completely out then call us during normal business hours to schedule an appointment.   


LOOSE BRACKET / BAND or APPLIANCE (Expander, Space Maintainer, Bonded Retainer)  If a bracket or band comes loose and is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if it’s bothering you. If it’s on the last tooth, try to remove it from the wire by gently pulling it backward. If you can’t get it off, it’s ok…just be careful not to swallow any loose brackets, bands or appliances. If a bracket comes off and there was no wire through it, we can replace it at your next scheduled appointment so you don’t need to make a special visit. Remember to avoid hard and sticky foods to prevent loosening your appliances.   Excessive appliance breakage will result in additional fees.  


SORENESS / DISCOMFORT  Your entire mouth including your lips, cheeks and tongue will feel sore and your teeth will be tender to biting pressure for 2 to 5 days after each adjustment. Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) work well to relieve pain and discomfort. Mouth soreness can be reduced by rinsing with warm salt water (one tsp. salt / glass of warm water) or you can buy Rincinol at the store. Discomfort will lessen over time as you get used to the braces or appliance and everyone has a different pain tolerance. Remember almost everyone has braces these days…even some as young as 5 years old…so you will make it through!!! 


MISSING COLOR / “O” or POWERCHAIN  If a “color” or an “O” or “powerchain” falls off…IT’S OK! This happens all the time. These help hold the wire in place and sometimes break or come off due to normal wear and tear with eating/drinking in the oral cavity over time. If the wire comes all the way out, call us during normal business hours to schedule an appointment.


TRAUMA / TRUE EMERGENCY  If you experience trauma to your face or mouth or feel true emergency care is necessary and cannot wait until normal business hours, call our office to reach the emergency line. Our staff RN is on-call and can help determine the next step.  For severe emergencies, call 911 or go to the closest Emergency Room.