Emergencies Or Broken Appliances


Although there are very few true orthodontic emergencies, during the course of treatment you may discover that you have loose or broken brackets or that the orthodontic wires may shift and begin irritating your lips or cheeks.

Patients are encouraged to contact our office during working hours for all emergencies. Emergencies seen during office hours are given the next available appointment.

For true medical emergencies, please call 911.

Something Broken or Loose

Broken or loose appliances happen to the best of us, but it should not be a routine occurrance. With broken appliances, often treatment isn’t progressing. If this is happening regularly, we’ll want to figure out what’s going on and come up with a beneficial course of action.

If you notice that part of your braces feels broken or loose, please call to notify us before your appointment, at least 24 hours before, but the sooner the better. We’ll help determine whether or not it’s something that requires an earlier visit to address. Unfortunately if you are scheduled for a routine adjustment appointment and you do not notify us of something broken or loose, we may not have time to repair the issue at that same appointment. Please keep us informed.

Common Problems

Below is a list of common problems and how they may be remedied at home. If you have a problem that you cannot resolve on your own, please call our office.

Our orthodontic team will be able to give you advice on how to solve the problem yourself or schedule you the appropriate appointment so that the problem can be fixed.

Sore spot on lips/cheek:

When you first receive your braces or your orthodontic appliance, sore spots may develop on your cheeks. Don’t worry – your cheeks will toughen up quickly! To protect your cheek, place a ball of wax on the offending bracket, wire, or appliance. Rinsing with warm salt water several times a day is very soothing to your gums and cheek tissues if the irritation persists. If you have used all of the wax provided to you, orthodontic wax can be purchased at any drug store and we will be happy to supply you with more on our next working day.


If you are medically able, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil as you would for a headache or similar discomfort. Soreness can be expected for 3-5 days after an adjustment.

Loose bracket:

Please call us for an appointment if you have a loose bracket. A broken bracket is not an orthodontic emergency. A broken or loose bracket should be fixed in a timely manner (within a week).

Loose appliance:

If your appliance (expander, herbst, etc.) becomes loose, please contact our office for an appointment.

Loose retainer wire:

If your bonded retainer wire becomes loose, please contact our office immediately for an appointment. Letting your teeth be without adequate retention puts them at risks shifting and relapse that could require additional orthodontic treatment to correct.

Lost or broken retainer:

If your removable retainer is broken or missing, please contact our office immediately to arrange for a replacement. Letting your teeth be without adequate retention puts them at risks shifting and relapse that could require additional orthodontic treatment to correct.

Poking wire:

Place wax over the poking wire and call us for an appointment. If the wax doesn’t resolve the issue until you can see us, you can use the eraser end of a pencil to bend the wire if possible. If you still cannot relieve the issue and you cannot get in to see us, you may use nail clippers to carefully pinch the end of the wire off. Don’t worry – poking wires are very common as the teeth move!


If you have a traumatic injury resulting in cuts to your lips or gums or if you have a loose tooth, please contact our office immediately. If you have broken any part of your tooth, you will need to contact your family dentist. If you suspect that your jaw has been injured or notice that your teeth have been moved by the accident, you may also need to be seen by an oral surgeon. In the case of a true medical emergency, please call 911.