The 7 Best Practices for Managing Orthodontic Emergencies at Home

So, you’ve got braces – congratulations on taking a big step towards a dazzling smile! But let’s be real, life with braces isn’t always smooth sailing. Sometimes, things can go a bit haywire, and orthodontic emergencies can happen when you least expect them. 

Knowing how to handle these little hiccups at home can save you a lot of discomfort and keep your treatment on track.

Welcome to Coastal Orthodontics’ guide on managing orthodontic emergencies from the comfort of your own home. We’re here to share the best practices that’ll help you navigate through those unexpected moments with ease. From loose brackets to pesky poking wires, we’ve got you covered with practical tips and a sprinkle of humor. After all, who says orthodontic advice can’t be fun?

Ready to become a pro at handling orthodontic emergencies? Let’s dive into the seven best practices that’ll keep you smiling through any braces-related mishap!

Loose Brackets

Loose brackets are one of the most common orthodontic emergencies you might encounter on your braces journey. A bracket can become detached from your tooth for various reasons, such as eating hard or sticky foods, an accidental bump, or even just regular wear and tear. 

Steps to Take at Home

  1. Stay Calm and Assess the Situation:
    • First things first, don’t panic. A loose bracket isn’t the end of the world. Check to see if the bracket is still attached to the wire or if it’s completely loose.
  2. Reposition the Bracket:
    • If the bracket is still attached to the wire, try gently sliding it back to its original position. You can use a cotton swab or the eraser end of a pencil to help move it.
  3. Secure with Orthodontic Wax:
    • To prevent the bracket from moving around and causing irritation, use orthodontic wax to secure it in place. Take a small piece of wax, roll it into a ball, and press it over the bracket.
  4. Avoid Hard or Sticky Foods:
    • Until you can get to our office, avoid eating anything hard, crunchy, or sticky that might further loosen the bracket or cause additional damage.

When to Contact Coastal Orthodontics

While managing a loose bracket at home can help you stay comfortable temporarily, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with Coastal Orthodontics as soon as possible. Dr. Kaur and our team will need to reattach the bracket properly to ensure your treatment stays on track.

Broken Wires

Broken wires can be a real nuisance when you have braces. They might snap unexpectedly, poke into your cheek, or cause general discomfort. But fear not, because handling a broken wire at home is entirely possible with a few simple steps.

Identifying Broken Wires

First things first, you’ll need to determine if a wire is truly broken. Sometimes, wires can shift slightly but remain intact. 

A broken wire will usually have a clear separation or a sharp end that pokes out.

Temporary Fixes to Manage Discomfort

  1. Use Orthodontic Wax:
    • If a broken wire is poking into your cheek or gums, orthodontic wax is your best friend. Roll a small piece of wax into a ball and place it over the sharp end of the wire. This will help cushion the area and prevent further irritation.
  2. Trim the Wire (If Necessary):
    • If the wire is causing severe discomfort and you can’t get to the orthodontist right away, you might need to trim it. Use a pair of sterilized nail clippers or small wire cutters to carefully cut the protruding part of the wire. Be sure to trim as close to the bracket as possible to avoid leaving a sharp end.
  3. Use a Pencil Eraser:
    • If trimming the wire isn’t an option, you can try using a pencil eraser to gently push the wire back into place. The eraser will help you move the wire without causing further damage or discomfort.

While these temporary fixes can help manage the discomfort of a broken wire, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with Coastal Orthodontics as soon as possible. 

Poking Wires

Poking wires can turn your smile into a frown faster than you can say “ouch!” These pesky wires have a way of making themselves known by jabbing into your cheeks or gums. But don’t worry – you can handle this annoyance with a few easy tricks.

Using Orthodontic Wax to Alleviate Discomfort

  1. Orthodontic Wax is Your Friend:
    • One of the quickest ways to get relief from a poking wire is to use orthodontic wax. Take a small piece of wax, roll it into a ball, and press it over the part of the wire that’s causing irritation. This will create a buffer between the wire and your cheek or gum, providing instant relief.
  2. Warm the Wax:
    • For better adhesion, you can warm the wax slightly between your fingers before applying it. This makes it more pliable and easier to mold around the wire.

Lost Separators

Separators (also known as spacers) are small rubber bands or metal devices that your orthodontist places between your teeth to create space for braces or other orthodontic appliances. 

They’re a crucial part of the treatment process, but they can sometimes fall out. 

Here’s how to handle lost separators at home.

What to Do If a Separator Falls Out

  1. Don’t Panic:
    • If you notice that a separator has fallen out, stay calm. It’s not uncommon for this to happen, and it’s usually not an emergency.
  2. Check the Area:
    • Inspect the area where the separator was. Sometimes, it might get lodged between other teeth or be hiding somewhere in your mouth. If you find it, do not attempt to put it back yourself.
  3. Contact Coastal Orthodontics:
    • Give us a call as soon as possible. Let us know that a separator has fallen out, and we’ll schedule a time to replace it. Depending on how close your next appointment is, we might advise you to come in sooner.

Lost separators can be a minor inconvenience, but with prompt action and a little care, you can manage the situation effectively. 

General Soreness and Discomfort

Let’s face it, braces can sometimes make your mouth feel like it’s run a marathon. General soreness and discomfort are common, especially after adjustments. But don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to manage the pain and keep smiling through it all.

Home Remedies to Ease Pain

  1. Saltwater Rinses:
    • One of the simplest and most effective ways to soothe a sore mouth is with a saltwater rinse. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. This can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  2. Over-the-Counter Pain Relief:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be a lifesaver for managing braces-related pain. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label and check with your orthodontist if you have any concerns.
  3. Orthodontic Wax:
    • Orthodontic wax isn’t just for poking wires. If your brackets or bands are irritating your cheeks or gums, place a small piece of wax over the area to create a smooth barrier.
  4. Cold Compresses:
    • Applying a cold compress to the outside of your mouth can help reduce swelling and numb the area. Use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth and apply it for 10-15 minutes at a time.

While soreness and discomfort are typically manageable at home, there are times when you should reach out to Coastal Orthodontics for advice or an appointment:

  • If the pain is severe and doesn’t improve with home remedies
  • If you notice any unusual swelling or signs of infection
  • If your braces or wires are causing significant damage to your cheeks, gums, or tongue

Food Stuck in Braces

Food getting stuck in your braces is an all-too-common part of life with orthodontic appliances. It can be annoying, uncomfortable, and sometimes even a bit embarrassing. 

But with the right tools and techniques, you can easily manage this issue and keep your braces clean and comfortable.

Tips for Safely Removing Food Particles

  1. Rinse with Water:
    • Start by rinsing your mouth with water. Swish it around vigorously to help dislodge any food particles stuck between your braces and teeth. This can be a quick and simple way to clear away debris.
  2. Use an Interdental Brush:
    • An interdental brush (also known as a proxabrush) is a small, brush designed to clean between the teeth and around braces. Gently insert the brush under the wire and around the brackets to remove trapped food. It’s like a tiny toothbrush that can reach all those tricky spots.
  3. Floss Threaders:
    • Floss threaders can be a game-changer for getting food out from between your teeth and braces. These handy tools help you guide dental floss under the wires. Once the floss is in place, you can clean between your teeth as usual.

Dealing with food stuck in your braces doesn’t have to be a hassle. With these tips and tools, you can keep your braces clean and free of debris, ensuring a more comfortable and pleasant orthodontic experience. 

Mouth Sores and Irritations

Mouth sores and irritations can be an unwelcome side effect of wearing braces. The brackets and wires can rub against the soft tissues in your mouth, causing sores, cuts, and general discomfort. 

Fortunately, there are several ways to manage these issues and keep your mouth feeling comfortable.

Home Treatments and Soothing Techniques

  1. Orthodontic Wax:
    • Orthodontic wax is a lifesaver when it comes to preventing and soothing sores. Apply a small piece of wax over the brackets or wires that are causing irritation. This creates a smooth barrier that reduces friction and allows the sore to heal.
  2. Saltwater Rinses:
    • Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater can help soothe and heal mouth sores. Mix one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. Do this several times a day for the best results.
  3. Over-the-Counter Oral Gels:
    • There are several over-the-counter gels and ointments available that can provide relief from mouth sores. Products containing benzocaine, such as Orajel or Anbesol, can numb the area and reduce pain.
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse:
    • A diluted hydrogen peroxide rinse can help clean and disinfect mouth sores. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water, and swish it around your mouth for about a minute before spitting it out. Be sure not to swallow the mixture.

By following these best practices for orthodontics, you can effectively manage mouth sores and irritations, keeping your mouth comfortable and healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment. 


Navigating life with braces can feel like a roller coaster, but knowing how to handle orthodontic emergencies at home can make the ride a lot smoother. From dealing with loose brackets and broken wires to managing soreness and keeping food from getting stuck, these best practices can help you stay comfortable and keep your treatment on track.

Remember, while these tips are great for temporary fixes, it’s always important to follow up with Coastal Orthodontics for any issues that arise. Dr. Kaur and our dedicated team are here to support you every step of the way, ensuring that your journey to a perfect smile is as comfortable and effective as possible.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need assistance or have any concerns about your braces. Your comfort and satisfaction are our top priorities, and we’re always here to help.

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Dr. Kaur

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