Emergency Care

Occasionally, some patients will experience an injury to the mouth during treatment. True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur we are available to you.

As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule a special appointment to resolve the problem. If you experience a painful problem at a time other than our regular office hours, you may call our office at 831-475-5500 for instructions on what to do.

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to temporarily solve many problems yourself until you schedule an appointment with our office. When working with your appliances, learn the names of the parts of your appliances so that you can identify what part is broken or out of place. After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions in your treatment plan.

Common Causes of Discomfort and Their Solutions:

  • Poking Wire – Try using a pencil eraser to push the poking wire down away from your cheek or lip. You can also place a small ball of wax to temporarily cushion the area.
  • Brace Loose From Tooth – A loose brace usually remains connected to the main wire and is not cause for an emergency visit. Tweezers can be used to re-position the brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. Call our office at your earliest convenience. It may be necessary to schedule a separate visit to repair the loose brace(s), since repairs of this nature usually take additional time.
  • Main Wire Loose From Brace  – If the main wire has come out of the brace or tube on a back molar tooth, attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle nosed pliers or tweezers. If the wire is not sticking you, place a piece of wax over the area. If the wire continues to stick you, it can be cut with a small wire cutter or nail clipper close to the back of the last brace. This is a last resort if professional help is unavailable.
  • Elastic Ligature Tie Loose From Bracket – This is not an emergency. Please call our office to schedule an appointment for us to replace the tie.
  • Discomfort from Headgear – Refer to the instructions provided by our office with regards to how often you should be wearing your headgear. The discomfort may be caused by not wearing the headgear as instructed. Surprisingly, the headgear may hurt less if it’s worn more, so be sure you’re getting in the prescribed hours.
  • Bent Facebow – If the facebow is bent and does not fit into your back molar tubes, please call our office for assistance. If the molar band attached to your headgear is loose, discontinue wearing the headgear until we can reattach your band. Please bring your headgear with you to this repair appointment.
  • Sore Teeth Following Treatment – If your teeth become sore after a visit (as will sometimes be the case) we generally recommend you take an analgesic such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Motrin). This, of course, is the protocol only if there are no known allergies to these medications. Rinsing with Peroxyl or a cup of warm water and teaspoon of salt can also be soothing. Chewing sugarless gum for 10 to 15 minutes following an adjustment can often reduce the soreness that may develop.
  • Irritated Lips, Tongue or Cheeks Following Treatment – This is normal for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Place a small ball of wax on the braces to smooth the area. If a small sore develops on the inside of your cheek or lip, use Orabase or a similar non-prescription topical anesthetic that is available at your local drug store.
  • Broken Braces or Retainers – If a part of your braces or your retainer breaks, save the piece and call to set up a repair visit. If your appliance is not repairable, it may be necessary to fabricate a replacement.
  • Spaces Between Teeth – You may notice small spaces developing between your teeth while you have braces on. Don’t panic! This is usually normal and expected as teeth move into different positions, particularly in the early stages of treatment. They will close eventually.
  • Bleeding When Brushing or Flossing – There is a chance that your gums are irritated, usually from retained plaque or food. Improved oral hygiene via more through brushing, flossing and rinsing with Listerine should solve this problem. Remember, orthodontic treatment requires extra diligence with daily oral hygiene. If a particular area is painful or you notice a bump of any sort, please give our office a call so that we can help you solve this problem.
  • Stuck Food Between Teeth – Use dental floss or a proxy brush to dislodge the food. Please be careful not to damage your braces or wire!