How to handle an Orthodontic Emergency

Occasionally, some patients will experience an orthodontic problem or injury to the mouth during treatment. Dental emergencies while wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances generally fall into two categories:


Sometimes, appliances might be broken or bent during your orthodontic care. If there are any disturbances such as loose bands, loose brackets, or broken/poking wires that are not causing severe pain, please call us during normal office hours. We will schedule you as soon as we can.

If you should encounter the rare experience of a breakage with poking that produces severe pain that you can not resolve at home, please call us at any time and we will get you comfortable again!

In the meantime before we can see you, here are some helpful hints to remedy some of the problems you may encounter:

  •  If any part of your braces is irritating your mouth, try placing a small amount of the wax that we provided over the source of irritation.
  • A broken or poking archwire can often be cut with nail clippers or bent into a comfortable position with a pencil eraser.


Following a direct injury to your mouth or teeth, immediately ice the injured area and contact your general dentist as soon as possible. Usually an x-ray of the involved tooth or teeth is needed to determine the extent of injury. If a tooth has been displaced, knocked out, or fractured, it is best to contact your general dentist first, since we may not have the necessary materials to treat these injuries. If the appliances are dislodged or displaced, we will need to replace or adjust the appliances as soon as possible.

Which parts are broken or loose?

Please use this diagram to describe your concerns when calling our office. If anything metal is loose on your braces you will need to schedule an appointment to repair it. Accurately describing the problem will help us ensure that we have the time in our schedule to accomodate your repair needs.

O-Tie or colored tie: These plastic ties wrap around the brace and wire to ligate each individual tooth. It may also be one continuous unit called Power Chain.

Braces or bracket: The small square metal piece that is adhered to each individual tooth.

Archwire: This is the horizontal wire that runs parallel and through each brace and ends in the back band molar tube.

Band: The metal ring that is cemented to some molars. On the tongue side there are also hooks called lingual cleats which can get flared and pushed back in with a pencil eraser or spoon.

Elastic hook: This metal hook may be added to the brace or will be one solid piece with the bracket.