For the most part, orthodontic emergencies refer to unexpected events during treatment with braces. Many of these emergencies are fairly minor, so it is important to first decipher between a true emergency and simple discomfort. Minor discomfort can easily be alleviated with the right tools. Once discomfort is lessened, the patient can book an appointment to address any remaining concerns regarding the problem with his or her braces.

dental emergency

Orthodontic Emergencies at School

Since most patients receive braces between the ages of 11 and 15, it is likely for orthodontic emergencies to occur while patients are in school. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has supplied a printable outline of what to do in the event of an emergency. It is a good idea to keep this orthodontic emergency guide on hand in the school’s clinic.

According to the AAO, school clinics may benefit from having the following tools available for minor emergencies with braces:

  • Salt
  • Toothpicks
  • Q-tips
  • Dental floss
  • Sterile tweezers
  • Small, sharp clippers
  • Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax
  • Interproximal brush
  • Topical anesthetic, such as Ora-Gel or Orabase
  • Over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Ibuprofen, to be supplied by the student’s parent or guardian

Food Caught in Teeth

Patients with braces who get food stuck in their teeth are not experiencing an orthodontic emergency. It is fairly simple to get the food out with a bit of dental floss or a toothbrush. Try tying a small knot in the dental floss to help dislodge food particles. If this does not work, try using an interproximal brush or toothpick.

Irritation & Mouth Sores

Some patients are more susceptible to mouth sores. In addition, some patients may experience minor irritation when the braces are still new. To alleviate discomfort from mouth sores, try placing a bit of topical anesthetic such as Ora-Gel upon the sore. For minor irritation, place non-medicated wax on the offending piece of the braces to avoid rubbing.

Wires, Brackets, & Bands

On occasion, a wire, bracket, or band may come loose on a patient’s braces. Some cases are more severe and may classify as emergencies. In all events, however, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the patient’s discomfort immediately.

If a wire, bracket, or band is loose or missing, notify the patient’s parents immediately so they may schedule an orthodontist appointment. Take care to ensure the patient has does not swallow any loose items. If a wire is protruding and irritating the patient’s mouth, use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire back into place. Next, apply some wax over top of the affected area of the braces.

Lastly, if the patient is experiencing unbearable discomfort, contact the parents immediately. The parents may need to schedule and orthodontist appointment. Consider giving the patient an over-the-counter pain reliever, if it has been supplied and approved by the parents. Apply wax to any portion of the braces that may be rubbing and causing discomfort.

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