Emergencies vs. Non-Emergencies in Orthodontics

Posted on April 18, 2019

Knowing what is considered an emergency and non-emergency with braces will potentially save you unnecessary trips to the orthodontist. We’re here to put your mind at ease and provide you with helpful tips to use when presented with unusual orthodontic occurrences at home.

What is considered an emergency in orthodontics?

If something is causing you unbearable pain, we encourage you to call your orthodontist as soon as possible. At Cardinal Orthodontics, we have an after hours emergency line for patients who are experiencing such pain during non-working hours. The number is: (314) 698-0522. Our on-call patient manager will give you tips to  alleviate pain.

Common orthodontic non-emergencies

Broken or loose brackets

If you eat something sticky or hard while wearing braces, it’s possible that a bracket could break and/or come loose. But don’t worry, this is no reason to panic! If you are not in any pain, you can call your orthodontist the following business day to see what they recommend. Most of the time this is a quick and easy fix! If you have an upcoming appointment scheduled and it’s not too far out, your orthodontist may recommend waiting until then to fix your bracket. In the mean time, if your bracket is still dangling on the wire, roll wax into a small ball and push it over the bracket that has become loose. This will help keep it in place until your next scheduled appointment. If the bracket has already come off the wire, we encourage you to save it. Brackets can often times be reused.

Poking wire

If you have a poking wire due to a loose bracket, wax will be your best friend! You can also try tearing off a tiny piece of a pencil eraser to stick on the end of the wire that is poking you. This will create a buffer between the wire and your cheek, and hopefully relieve the discomfort.

If you are struggling to get wax or a pencil eraser to stick in the back due to excessive moisture, consider using silicone ear plugs. You can purchase these at your local CVS or Walgreens. Silicone ear plugs tend to stick better than wax will on a wet bracket/wire. You will need to cut a piece of the ear plug (however big or small you need), and stick it on the end of the poking wire. This trick could also be used on bracket hooks that may be rubbing on the inside of your cheeks.

Sore, puffy, or bleeding gums

Irritated gums that are puffy and/or bleeding are common signs of poor dental hygiene and gum disease. It’s best to contact your general dentist for these types of issues as they will be able to provide you with a customized oral hygiene plan specific for your needs. To avoid this from happening, be sure to brush your teeth a minimum of two times a day, and floss as often as possible while wearing braces.


Cardinal Orthodontics | After Hours Emergencies

Every orthodontic practice handles emergency appointments differently. At Cardinal Orthodontics, our after-hours on-call patient manager is available 8am-8pm when our office is not open. Please be sure to leave your name, telephone number, and a detailed message about your orthodontic emergency so they can call you back as soon as possible.


Categories: Oral Health, Orthodontic Treatment
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