When Should I Turn to Emergency Care for My Orthodontic Needs?

When Should I Turn to Emergency Care for My Orthodontic Needs?

Orthodontic emergencies are rare. The braces, appliances, and headgear are all time-honored, safe treatments, and most people wear them without any problems whatsoever.

But accidents do happen, and when they do, it’s comforting to know that our team of experts at LM Orthodontics in McLean, Virginia, is ready to help. Here’s a closer look at the types of problems you can take care of at home and those that constitute an orthodontic emergency.

Assess the situation

The first thing to do when you feel pain or discomfort related to your orthodontic treatment is to assess the situation. 

If your pain is tolerable and you can take care of it by using one of the following at-home care methods, then it’s not an emergency. 

If the home-care remedies don’t work or the situation is clearly urgent, call us right away.

When to address your orthodontic issues at home

Although we’re here when you need us, there are several situations that are easily remedied in the comfort of your own home, and we can provide a more permanent solution at your next scheduled appointment.

Ease your pain

First, remember that braces are designed to move your teeth, which can feel uncomfortable. This is not an emergency, but it is a problem you can address on your own. Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, can decrease inflammation and reduce pain, and rinsing your mouth with a mild solution of warm salt water can also ease discomfort. 

See what’s going on

It’s a good idea to keep a long-handled dental mirror at home so you can see what’s going on in your mouth. You may have developed an infection or abscess that needs medical treatment, and a mirror can help you get a visual of it. 

Poking wires

Occasionally, the wires in your braces may come loose or break, and if they do, the end may protrude and poke the soft tissues in your mouth. 

For this reason, we always recommend keeping a supply of dental wax on hand. You can purchase this versatile “fix-all” in most grocery and drug stores. It comes in handy for covering broken wires, loose brackets, and any spots that rub your cheek or tongue the wrong way. 

If the wire is too long to cover with wax, use some tweezers to bend it back into a better position, or push it down with the eraser end of a pencil.

Orthodontic emergencies

Most orthodontic problems can wait until we see you at your next appointment, but some need immediate attention.

Severe pain

If you’re experiencing severe oral pain that doesn’t subside when you use over-the-counter pain relievers, give us a call. Orthodontic treatments shouldn’t cause intense pain, so it may be an indicator that you need an adjustment or that you have another dental problem.

Unfixable appliance problems

When your wires or brackets break, and you can’t fix them on your own by covering them with wax or bending them back into place, call us. Protruding wires can cut your cheeks, cause bleeding, and open the door to infections.

Mouth trauma

Any time you experience mouth trauma, whether it’s in a car crash, a sports injury, or other type of fall or blow to the face that causes bleeding, broken teeth, or soft tissue damage, this is an orthodontic emergency. 

Whether you wear traditional metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign®, an expander, or a retainer, each of these appliances can cause problems if you’re involved in an accident. 

In the event that a piece of your orthodontic appliance has broken off and you’ve swallowed it, you may need medical attention. If you’re choking or gagging and can’t get it unstuck, call 911.

If you’ve swallowed a ligature (rubber band), it will most likely pass on its own, but do come in soon so we can replace or repair the missing parts.

If you’re not sure whether your issue constitutes an emergency, don’t hesitate to call us. We can help you assess the situation and let you know whether you need to come in right away or not. 

To reach us, call 703-498-2047 or use our online booking tool for regular appointments. 

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