While we recognize that orthodontic “emergencies” are not life-and-death situations, we also understand that situations may occur that cause discomfort. Perhaps a wire will break or you accidentally eat something that causes a problem. We have provided the information below to help you prevent those types of emergencies and also to answer some of the most common questions regarding these special situations.

Teeth, when moving, can be really tender for about a week after the initial placement of the orthodontic appliances and also after each adjustment. Discomfort can be relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Motrin. Follow the dosage recommendations and any additional precautions as listed on the bottle. Some patients find it helpful to take the first dose at the appointment time to help prevent some of the discomfort to come when the teeth start to move.

During the first two weeks, the inside of your cheeks will be tender because they are not used to the braces. As time goes by, the inside of the cheeks will toughen up and adjust to the braces. While the cheeks are still overly sensitive, using wax on the rough spots can be very helpful. Also helpful are warm saltwater rinses which soothe the cheek lining (see instructions below).

Some inconveniences while going through treatment are normal. Many times repairs can be put off until your next regular appointment. Of course, we are here to serve you and encourage you to call any time you have a question.

Detailed below is a listing of situations that may arise and some direction on how to deal with them:

Loose Band or Bracket Loose Appliances

If the band/bracket is still attached to the wire, leave in place. If uncomfortable, place wax on it. If it comes out completely, wrap bracket/band or appliance in tissue.   Call our office to schedule a repair visit. Call even if you have an upcoming appointment since repairs of this nature usually take additional time. Broken appliances will delay treatment time and need to be repaired as soon as possible.

 Loose Wire

Try to place wire back in place with tweezers or needle nose pliers. If that is not possible, clip the wire with fingernail clippers behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If uncomfortable, place wax on it.

 Poking Wire

If a wire causes irritation, using a pencil eraser or a Q-tip, push the poking wire down and away from the area, or place wax on it to alleviate the discomfort.

 Using Wax

  • Step 1 – Ball up a small amount of the wax with your fingers
  • Step 2 – Dry off your brace with a paper towel
  • Step 3 – Mash the wax against your bracket to make a small comfort mound.
  • Replace if neccesary. And don’t worry if you happen to swallow this, it’s just wax.

General Soreness

When you first have your braces placed, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressure for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. Placing Orabse on the affected area may help; this can be found at your local pharmacy. If the tenderness is severe, take whatever over the counter pain medication that you normally take for headache or similar pain.

The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one or two weeks as they become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this.

 Lost Separators

If you lose a separator, please call our office to determine if it needs to be replaced. You can reposition the spacer by taking two pieces of dental floss and inserting them through the spacer. Pull on both pieces of floss to stretch the spacer, then slide the spacer back and forth between the two teeth where it belongs. Once the bottom half of the spacer slips under the tight spot between the teeth, release and remove the floss and the spacer will fit back properly.


If you play any sports that normally require a mouthguard without braces, we recommend you wear one with braces. Ask us at your next appointment and we will show you what an orthodontic mouthguard looks like. They are available in the office and at most retail stores. They can definitely help prevent many orthodontic emergencies.

Musical Instruments

While playing musical instruments use wax to help with any discomfort

As a general rule, call our office as soon as possible for an orthodontic repair appointment. Repairs are made when there is severe discomfort, a loose band, a broken wire or something sticking out that you can’t take care of. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need a repair appointment. If you need help identifying the cause of the problem please see our braces diagram in the types of braces section.