Types of Orthodontic Emergencies
What is an Orthodontic Emergency?
Although it is extremely rare for a true emergency to happen while a patient is undergoing orthodontic treatment, it does happen in some cases.
Any emergencies that do occur usually have to do with malfunctioning parts on orthodontic appliances or a sudden injury to the facial area.
Listed below are the 3 primary situations that may classify as an orthodontic emergency:
- Intense, unbearable discomfort is felt in the mouth or jaw region
- A situation that puts the patient’s health at risk
- A situation which directly disrupts the normal treatment plan in a major way
Because urgent situations can and do happen, it is of the utmost importance patients understand what may constitute a situation in need of immediate attention, either by a certified orthodontist or medical professional.
Extra care should be taken to avoid circumstances that may put the patient’s oral appliance at risk for breaking or significant damage. A patient may be prone to an emergency involving their appliance if they play sports or participate in something that involves the facial area without the proper protection.
Your Safety is Our Priority
In most cases patients will complete braces treatment without any incidents. Besides the minor discomfort that comes with the movement of teeth with braces and aligners, all orthodontic appliances are designed to be extremely safe and secure.
The doctors at Burke & Redford Orthodontists are dedicated to doing whatever is possible to ensure their patients have a comfortable, worry-free experience during their course of treatment.
Major Types of Emergency Orthodontic Care
In order to alleviate any initial apprehension, it is important to reiterate how uncommon it is for a genuine crisis to occur during treatment.
Our experience is that most patients adhere to the guidelines regarding safety while playing sports, avoiding specific foods, and overall care of their orthodontic appliance. Patients like this normally complete treatment without even the slightest issue.
However, it is crucial to understand what are considered major emergencies in the rare instance that one does occur. These include:
- Injury to the face or head
- Unexplained bleeding or a loose/missing tooth due to an injury
- Intense discomfort in the mouth or jaw
- Signs of infection in the mouth
- Swelling of the face, gums, or mouth
- Swallowing an appliance (especially if it becomes difficult to breathe)
Remaining aware of these situations and what to do if they should occur are steps toward maintaining good oral health at every step of the orthodontic treatment plan. If you or your child experience any of the above situations, please contact our office immediately so we may help you.
Minor Types of Orthodontic Emergencies
Minor emergencies are certainly more common to occur during a patient’s course of treatment. When a minor issue arises, it is normally a quick and easy fix at the local orthodontist’s office. These appointments are typically scheduled during normal office hours.
Listed below are the minor types of emergencies that may be encountered:
- Discomfort in the mouth:
It is completely normal for soreness to occur in the mouth after initial braces placement or after they are adjusted periodically throughout treatment.
Pain relievers (Ibuprofen or Tylenol) are the best way to help alleviate the situation (if the patient doesn’t have any medical conditions that contraindicate their use). Limiting your diet to soft foods during the few days of soreness is also a good idea.
- Broken/loose appliances:
In some cases, an individual brace or part of an appliance may become loose or even break off. Normally, it is due to eating sticky or hard foods that are incompatible with wearing braces.
Once one appliance breaks, it is not uncommon for other parts to follow suit. This issue should be brought to the attention of the orthodontist immediately in order to see what next steps should be taken.
- Lips or cheek irritation:
This normally occurs when the appliance is first applied. Initially, the mouth is not used to the presence of braces, and it may cause slight discomfort to the lips or cheeks. By applying pieces of wax to the problem areas, relief may be achieved. Eventually, the soft tissue inside the mouth (cheeks and lips) will build up a tolerance to the braces and wax will no longer be needed.
- Long wires at the back of the mouth:
As the teeth move and adjust during treatment, the wire part of the braces may shift around the arch or appear to become longer towards the back of the mouth. This can result in the wire poking the cheek tissue in the area.
A patient may apply orthodontic wax to the end of the wire or come into the office to be adjusted properly.
- Missing elastics or ties:
The office will be able to replenish a supply of elastics or ties should they break or go missing.
What to Do If You’re Experiencing an Orthodontic Emergency
Besides remaining calm throughout the situation, it is necessary to assess whether the problem is major or minor in nature. After this is decided, further action can be taken.
In the case of an urgent problem, it is important to get immediate attention. If the situation is extremely urgent, a trip to the nearest hospital is advised.
After a patient is taken to the hospital, a follow-up appointment with the orthodontist will most likely be advised as soon as possible.
In any case, it is recommended to notify your orthodontist’s office immediately. This is especially true if a tooth has been displaced from its normal position.
Most minor situations may wait until the next appointment date to be dealt with properly.
However, the best way to handle a minor incident is to call the office and ask our knowledgeable staff what the best course of action may be, given the situation.
The best rated orthodontists are trained professionals who are always ready and willing to help a patient with questions or problems when they arise at our practice. If you are a patient of record and have a situation arise during non-working hours that you feel needs to be addressed immediately, please call our regular office phone number and follow the instructions for getting in contact with us through our emergency line.
Preventing Future Orthodontic Emergencies
Some of the best preventative measures are listed below:
- A mouthguard should always be worn when playing contact sports or engaging in an intensive physical activity. If a significant injury is sustained, the mouthguard will protect not only the appliance, but the mouth, lips, gums, and teeth. If you are an active patient in our practice, we can provide a mouthguard that is compatible with your braces for sports activities.
- Eating braces friendly foods during treatment can save trips back and forth to the office. Patients often experience broken or loose appliances due to chewing hard or sticky foods.
Any questions or concerns regarding emergency orthodontic care should be directed to the Burke & Redford Orthodontists offices during normal business hours.
Please call us the best orthodontist team for emergency orthodontic care in the Inland Empire for over 30 years at (951) 699-8011. We look forward to assisting you at our locations in Temecula and Lake Elsinore.