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Orthodontic Emergencies

Orthodontic Emergencies

Having braces can really be a life changing treatment for the better. It can greatly improve your confidence which will shine on all aspects of your life. During the treatment, you will want it to run smoothly as possible and to be as discrete as possible. Luckily, with modern braces, they are becoming more and more discrete, enjoyable and comfortable that really fit into your everyday life.

However, there can be occasions when you will require an orthodontic emergency appointment to treat an unfortunate situation:

Food Between Teeth and Braces

This isn’t really a serious emergency and will only be slightly uncomfortable for the patient. In most cases, it is mainly down to the sight of the food stuck which can be quite embarrassing for the patient.

This can be easily treated with dental floss (tying a knot if needed to get the stubborn food out) or an interproximal brush (preferred choice).

Lost Wires/Ligature

The small fine wires and rubber bands are called ligatures. These are used to hold the wire in place on the bracket. If these have fallen off you will need an appointment to have new ones put on.

What Ligatures are

Ligatures Fallen Off

If a ligature has fallen off but you haven’t lost it, it may be re-attachable. For rubber ligatures they can be carefully placed back on using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature does become loose then they will need to be replaced as they can cause an irritation in the lip. If the wire ligature is not loose but is sticking out into the lip, we may be able to bend it back into place without having to replace it.

If there is a problem with one of the ligatures all the rest of them will have to be examined at the same appointment as well, to ensure they are not likely to fall off soon.


After having the braces/retainers initially on or straight after an adjustment, you can expect to experience some slight discomfort. This is very normal and even though it may be slightly uncomfortable, this will only be a temporary feeling. During this period we recommend eating soft foods and to rinse your mouth with warm salty water which can ease the discomfort.

Mouth Sores

Braces do not cause mouth sores but if you are susceptible to getting them, then braces could make the sore worse by a brace irritation. This is again not really classed as an emergency, but if you are suffering from mouth sores with braces on, it can be quite painful and uncomfortable. For quick pain relief we recommend using a topical anesthetic (check which one you use if you have allergies) to apply directly over the mouth sore with a cotton swab. Reapply as and when the pain is too much for you.

Mouth Irritations

When you have a new brace put in, your mouth will be undergoing a lot of changes which can mean you experience some irritation. This is especially true when you first eat with your braces on. To help make eating easier, you can use non-medicinal relief wax to roll up in a small ball (pea size) and place over the sore area while eating (to stop any contact). If the wax is by accidentally ingested there is no need to worry as it is non toxic and won’t cause any harm.

Protruding wires

Protruding Wires

Occasionally the ends of a braces wire may come loose out of its place, which can start to cause mouth irritations. You will need to see your dentist as soon as possible, so they can either put the wire back into its position, clip it, or all together replace the wire.

Loose Wires, Bands or Brackets

If you start to notice that any of the wires or bands start to become loose, call us immediately and we will be happy to help you.

Brackets Fallen Off

The brackets are the parts of the brace that are fixed to your teeth by a special adhesive and have the archwire running through the middle of them. You need to be careful when eating hard crunchy foods as they can cause brackets to be knocked off, and you need to be especially careful when playing contact sports – We recommend a mouth guard for extra protection.

If your bracket does fall off please call us for advice on if you need an emergency appointment. The brackets hold the archwire in place which is the underlying force behind aligning your teeth. The brace will continue to work with a missing bracket but if there is any discomfort we will want to see you.

Braces, brackets and ligatures explanation


If you do have an orthodontic emergency please do not hesitate to call us to arrange an emergency appointment as soon as possible.

Dental Emergency Form

By Dr Faresh Desai

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