Dealing with Problems

While orthodontic emergencies aren’t likely, sometimes problems do occur. Fortunately, there are often temporary fixes that you can easily accomplish yourself, as described below.

But be sure to call our office to let us know what’s happened and to schedule an appointment so we can remedy the problem. Wearing a damaged appliance for very long could slow down your treatment.

Of course, you should always call us for emergency orthodontic care if you have serious pain or a problem you can’t solve on your own.


It's normal for your mouth to feel sore when you first get braces. Your lips and the inside of your mouth are likely to be irritated for a couple of weeks while they’re getting used to the feel of this unfamiliar new device. Your orthodontist will show you how to apply soft dental wax to your braces to ease the discomfort.

For the first several days, your teeth and gums may be sensitive when you bite down. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth no longer hurt when you chew. To relieve gum irritation, you can rinse your mouth with saltwater (1 teaspoon salt dissolved in 8 ounces warm water) or Healthy Gums oral rinse (made by The Natural Dentist). Applying Orabase oral pain reliever (sold in pharmacies) also may help.

For more serious discomfort, it’s okay to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or your preferred pain medication. But be aware that tooth movement—and thus your treatment—can actually be slowed down by aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox). Frequent use of these isn’t recommended while you have braces.


If Something’s Loose

If a bracket or band on your braces is loose but hasn’t actually come off, leave it in place and apply wax to make it more comfortable. If it comes off easily, seal the bracket or band in a plastic bag to bring to your next appointment.

If a wire is loose, try using tweezers or needle-nosed pliers to nudge the end into position. You can even use dental floss in place of a missing colored O-ring to tie the wire in place.

If you just can’t get a wire into a position that isn’t bothersome, you can carefully trim it with a fingernail clipper in back of the last tooth to which it’s firmly attached. Cover the end with wax if it feels sharp.

If your retainer is poking your mouth uncomfortably, use wax to smooth the part that’s causing the problem. If a wire is jabbing you, try to push it down with the eraser end of a pencil. You can also use wax on the wire.