Emergencies for patients in braces tend to be relatively infrequent and fortunately are not usually severely debilitating. A true emergency is where are you are so uncomfortable you cannot wait until you come back for your regularly scheduled appointment. Nevertheless, the discomfort from a problem with the braces can be upsetting. If you have a problem with your appliances, please call the office before you come in. This will allow us to assess the problem and determine the appropriate amount of time needed for your visit. Should you have any discomfort after hours or on weekends, please call our office at 512-346-9771 to obtain a contact number for Dr. Williams or Dr. Robirds from the message on the phone. If Dr. Williams and Dr. Robirds are out of the area, there will be an on-call orthodontist's contact information available.
Listed below are some common types of emergency situations you might have and some at-home options that may assist you until you can be seen in the office.
Broken or loose brackets are generally not considered an urgent problem in most cases. When a bracket comes off of a tooth, it is still normally attached to the wire. This will prevent the bracket from being swallowed, but it may move or spin around the wire. If this is a problem for the patient, a little wax pressed against the bracket will keep it from moving around. If the loose bracket is causing pain, please call the office for further instructions. If it comes off completely, wrap the bracket or band in tissue and bring it to your next appointment.
Many times as the teeth move in the early phase of treatment, the wire used to straighten the teeth has no place to go except out the back of the molar band area. Also, if spaces are being closed or if the bite is being corrected, the wire will begin to get longer at the back of the braces. Fortunately, most times this can be handled at home very simply with some orthodontic wax. It is important to try and dry the area first (with a paper towel), then roll up a piece of wax into a ball. Place the ball of wax into the area of the poking wire. The wax will smooth the area and keep the tissue from getting caught on the end. If wax does not resolve the pain, please call our office so that we can have you come in and the wire can be clipped.
ORTHODONTIC DISCOMFORT AND PAIN
Discomfort and sometimes pain is a normal part of orthodontic treatment. Sometimes this can be surprising, even if it was discussed previously. The pain tends to occur about 4-6 hours after the braces are placed or after an adjustment appointment. Over the next day or two, the pain could become progressively worse. However; after the third or fourth day the pain will begin to subside. Most orthodontic pain can be relieved by rinsing with warm salt water. Over the counter pain medication (Asprin, Tylenol or Advil) can also be used right before or right after the adjustment appointments. This allows the medication to already be in the system before the pain begins, improving the effectiveness.
Significant dental injuries while in braces can be traumatic to the patient. Immediate care should be sought from a physician and dentist in those cases. In some cases, the braces have been known to actually prevent loss of teeth, since the braces and wires provide stability.
Nevertheless, home care is generally not recommended in these cases.
LOOSE / BROKEN OR LOST APPLIANCES
If the appliance becomes loose, is out of the proper position, or falls out of place completely, the correction that has already been achieved may be lost. It would be best to call our office and schedule an emergency appointment to replace the appliance to the position needed to keep treatment on track.
Sometimes your appliances can cause irritations on your tongue, cheeks, lips or gums. If this occurs, rinsing your mouth with salt water can help to heal the irritation. Wax can also be used to cover the appliance to prevent any further irritation.