First Aid for Orthodontic Emergencies

Poking Wire

Poking Wire

 As your teeth shift, the ends of the wire will start poking out the back. First try to gently move the wire back into the bracket using a cotton swab or pencil eraser. If the wire does not move, cover it with a small pea-sized amount of wax or cotton. You may also try cutting the wire with nail clippers or small wire cutters that have been washed and disinfected in alcohol. Call the office for an appointment if you cannot resolve the problem. 

Sore Teeth

sore tooth

 After your wire or Invisalign adjustment it is common to experience some soreness to for a few days.  Eating soft foods like mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese or yogurt after an adjustment is better than eating hard or chewy foods.  You may also take Ibuprofen (Advil) following the instructions on the bottle.  Some studies show taking Ibuprofen 1 hour before the appointment reduces discomfort by 50%. Many tell me cold things like ice cream and slushies help, but make sure to brush after.

Broken Braces

Broken Bracket

If you realize that one of your braces or bands is loose, it is generally not an emergency unless it is causing discomfort. If the bracket is attached to the wire, leave it in place and cover it with wax as needed for comfort. If the bracket comes out completely, bring it with you to your next appointment. Avoid connecting elastics or a headgear appliance to any loose braces. Call the office to schedule an appointment to repair the bracket as soon as possible.  

Sore Gums

Sore Gums

If your gums feel sore or puffy than the likely cause is poor hygiene. Thoroughly brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day; after every meal for best results.  Use a WaterPik for to get hard to reach areas.


Another effective home remedy is to rinse with warm salt water.  Simply mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water, then rinse, swish and spit it out like a mouth rinse. You can repeat this as often as you like.  The salt kills germs and shrinks the swollen gums.

Canker Sores & Ulcers

Orthodontic Sore

Canker sores are small white areas surrounded by red. The sores may occur after a mouth injury due irritation from braces. In most cases, the canker sores go away by themselves. If you have a canker sore, avoid eating hot or spicy foods. The easiest home remedy is to mix one teaspoon Milk of Magnesia and one teaspoon of Benadryl liquid allergy medicine. Swish this mixture in your mouth for about 1 minute, and then spit it out (don’t swallow it). You can do this as often as you like.  

Loose Expander or Headgear

Darla Headgear

If an expander or banded appliance dislodges, push it back into place and eat soft foods until it is repaired. Please call our office to schedule a repair appointment right away. Do not activate the appliance. If it comes out completely, place it in a bag and bring it to your appointment.