Braces Emergency? How to Care for Your Braces at Home

by Premier Orthodontics

Since the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) first entered our lives as a global pandemic, we’re facing an unprecedented time for our company, nation, and world.

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and per recommendations by the American Dental Association, all Premier Orthodontics locations will remain closed until May 2020.

It’s hard to look at the things you thought you’d be crossing off your calendar this spring without getting a little worried. One of those concerns might be having to cancel an orthodontist appointment when you or your children have braces.

What if a wire breaks? What about if their mouth gets sore from the brackets or pressure? Will you or your child be able to keep your teeth properly cleaned and taken care of without your orthodontist visit?

Choice Care for Orthodontic Emergencies During April

Our Patient Care teams will be here to help coordinate any emergency care needs at a nearby Children's Choice Dental Care location. Emergency care may include loose appliances, loose brackets, and poking wires.

We’re confident that our Choice partner for pediatric dental care will provide you engaging and quality care during this healthcare crisis:

With all Premier Orthodontist locations are closed until May, you’re probably wondering what to do if you or your child experiences as common, minor issue with your braces at home.

We’ve rounded up some tried-and-true methods for taking care of your oral health and braces while you’re at home. So you can rest assured that your teeth will stay happy and healthy until you can come see us again!

The Components of Braces

Before you or your child attempt any maintenance or temporary repairs on your braces, it’s important to know how all the different parts of your braces work.

Brackets

  • These are the ceramic or metal pieces that are adhered to your teeth.

Ligatures aka rubber bands

  • The small rubber or metal elastics, more commonly called "rubber bands," that surround your braces are called elastic ligatures.
  • A ligature is used to keep the archwire held into the slot on the bracket.
  • They can also direct your teeth in a certain direction, depending on the type of ligature used and how it is tied onto your tooth.

Archwire

  • The archwire connects the brackets and helps guide the teeth to where they need to be.

Ligature wire

  • A stainless steel ligature wire is used in the same way as an elastic ligature (rubber band), but they provide a stronger force between your brackets and teeth.
  • When your orthodontist works to straighten a tooth that is twisted or turned, the archwire needs to stay put in the slot of your brackets. A wire ligature allows your orthodontist to keep the metal archwire securely tied into the bracket slot.

Metal rings

  • The metal rings go around the back teeth to help stabilize the braces.

How to Maintain Your Braces at Home

The best way to make sure you or your child won’t need to worry about how to temporarily repair your braces is to make sure you’re maintaining them properly.

If you have tooth-colored or clear brackets, your braces are likely ceramic. These can be great if you’d like a more subtle appearance to your braces.

However, you should be prepared for a little extra at-home care.

Ceramic brackets are often bigger than metal brackets. Bigger brackets can mean ceramic braces are a bit riskier when it comes to bacteria build up on your teeth.

Be sure to brush twice a day with a soft-bristled brush that can reach your tooth enamel (the outside layer of your teeth) and the point where your teeth and gums meet. Consider using baking soda to help prevent the brackets from staining.

With any type of braces, you can employ added plaque protection by using a water flosser. Water flossers shoot a small, narrow, yet strong stream of water around your brackets and wires to clean the hard-to-reach areas of your teeth.

What to Do if Your Braces Hurt

As you know, braces can get pretty uncomfortable as your teeth begin to shift and adjust. Sometimes the shifting can cause painful sores or cuts on the inside of your mouth.

Canker sores

Luckily, the wax you get at the orthodontist to cover any sharp places in wires or brackets can be ordered online! Be sure to stock up and use it at any sign of poking or rubbing that can cause discomfort.

If a canker sore develops where your braces are irritating the inside of your mouth, you can get a bit of added relief by gargling with warm salt water.

Sore teeth

You might also experience pain from the pressure your braces put on your teeth to straighten them. If the pain becomes severe or is caused by something other than rubbing or gum soreness from shifting teeth, you can use a numbing topical ointment that’s made for the inside of the mouth.

Eating soft foods will also help alleviate pain or soreness from the pressure of braces. Soft foods can help prevent soreness from eating harder foods, and can help ensure your brackets and wires stay intact.

The recommendations above combined with an over-the-counter painkiller as needed should help you or your children get through your day-to-day routine comfortably.

How to Repair a Loose Archwire

First and foremost, if you have a broken archwire during the pandemic, please contact our emergency care needs team at a nearby Children's Choice Dental Care location. We’ll be sure to get you the professional care you need to get your wire fixed securely and safely.

If for some reason your archwire comes loose from the bracket area and you can’t see your orthodontist, follow the steps below:

  1. First, simply try to push the wire back into the bracket that it popped out of with your finger.
  2. If this doesn’t work right away, grab a pair of needle nose pliers and a mirror (tweezers tend to not have a stable enough gripping area for this). Guide the wire back into the bracket using the pliers, and secure it in place with the dental wax you use to prevent canker sores.
  3. If your archwire bends in a way that’s not popping out of the bracket, don’t try to repair it yourself. You could end up causing even more damage, including alignment issues!
  4. Be sure to remember to tell your orthodontist that you had a broken wire the next time you see them so they can make sure to provide a long-term solution.

How to Repair a Broken Ligature Wire

If your ligature wire is damaged so that it pops out of the bracket (or if it breaks entirely), cut the end of it with wire cutters to prevent it from cutting the inside of the mouth, and place wax on the end.

If the wire is pretty long and can’t be helped with dental wax, this can typically be bent back. You can use your finger or a pencil eraser to gently push it out of the way of the area it’s irritating.

If your archwire is not fitting back into the bracket, be sure to contact our emergency care needs team at a nearby Children's Choice Dental Care location. You will need the assistance of a professional orthodontist to fix this issue.

How to Repair a Broken Bracket

Like a broken wire, if you have a broken bracket, you will need to schedule an orthodontist appointment as soon as you can. However, with the stay-at-home orders still in place, we provide a temporary solution below.

If your bracket pops off the tooth and is “floating” on the wire, use a sterilized pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers to slide it along the wire until it’s back in place, and face it in the right direction. You can sterilize your tweezers or pliers by simply boiling them for 15 minutes.

With a sanitary pair of tweezers, some dental wax, and your own two hands, you can manage any issues that pop up until you can go see your orthodontist at Premier Orthodontics.

Be sure to keep a log of any issues that happen until your next appointment so you’ll remember to bring them up when the time does come for an appointment.

Stay Connected to Your Orthodontic Care Team

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for dental news and tips for your orthodontic care. We’ll also be sharing videos regarding simple orthodontic care tips should you experience a common minor issue with your braces.

Our Premier teams will be contacting and rescheduling patients with upcoming appointments to after May 4, 2020.

Got questions or concerns about your or your child’s braces? For any emergency care needs from now to May, call us toll-free at (833) 306-7846 or contact Children's Choice directly at (888) 356-0747. Be sure to inform them you're a Premier patient.