The unexpected happens occasionally. When it does, being prepared can make all the difference. Knowing what to expect can help you act quickly and efficiently, and reduce your stress so you can think clearly. At Roy Orthodontics, we are here for you whenever you need us. Here, we will discuss common dental and orthodontic emergencies, and how to handle them. Understanding emergency care is the first step to taking control of the situation.
Dental Emergencies vs Orthodontic Emergencies
Before exploring common scenarios, we will distinguish between dental emergencies and orthodontic emergencies. It is important to know the difference, because emergencies are time-sensitive. If you are experiencing a dental emergency, a general dentist will have more appropriate resources and materials than an orthodontist. The adverse is true for an orthodontic emergency. Dental emergencies include:
- Knocked-out teeth
- Fractured teeth
- Soft tissue lacerations
- Direct blunt force trauma to the face or mouth
- Swelling of the gums, tongue, or surrounding tissues
- Dental abscesses or infections
- Broken jaws
If you have experienced any of the above, seek professional attention immediately. Call your general dentist for recommendations if it is during regular business hours. If it is after office hours, drive to your nearest emergency room.
Orthodontic emergencies are rare. However, these would be categorized by any situation in which your oral appliance is causing severe and chronic pain.
Handling Orthodontic Problems at Home
Many common orthodontic problems can be easily treated at home. Here, we will discuss how to address some of the most frequent issues our patients experience:
- General soreness: Slight discomfort is typical after having your braces put on or adjusted. This is only temporary, and will diminish within a day or two. In the meantime, tenderness can be addressed by taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
- Mobility: Some patients are quite shocked to find that their teeth are loose after beginning orthodontic treatment. This is actually a normal part of the treatment process, as the teeth must loosen slightly before they can be moved. Once your teeth are in their new positions, they will become stable again.
- Loose or broken brackets: You will probably experience one or two broken brackets while undergoing treatment. This happens occasionally. If the bracket has come loose, but it is still attached to the archwire, simply place a piece of orthodontic wax over it until your next appointment. If the bracket has come off, wrap it in a tissue and bring it with you to your next visit. To minimize broken brackets, be sure to avoid hard, crunchy, and sticky foods.
- Poking wire: If you notice that a wire is irritating the inside of your lips or cheeks, you can gently bend the wire with a blunt object, such as a Q-tip or a pencil eraser. If it is still poking you, call our office to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, you can place orthodontic wax over the sharp area to alleviate your discomfort.
Even if you successfully address the above issues at home, it is still important to call our office and schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. Broken or bent components can prolong your orthodontic treatment if not addressed. If you are unsure whether or not you are experiencing an orthodontic emergency, give us a call.