The following provides general information in relation to some of the most common orthodontic problems that patients encounter. This information is designed to help you get comfortable until you’re able to contact us. If you’re unable to get comfortable, you should seek follow-up care with Dr Semaan, your dentist, or your general doctor for further instructions.
While we label them as ‘emergencies’, they’re really just uncomfortable situations which patients can generally wait several days or even weeks to have resolved. Our experience shows that emergencies for patients undergoing Invisalign or braces are relatively uncommon and typically pretty mild. Nonetheless, these situations can be uncomfortable despite be resolved fairly easily.
In the following, we have listed some of the most common problems encountered with orthodontic treatment along with potential or temporary solutions that you can try until you can get in touch with our staff to schedule an appointment.
If you have any queries or concerns, please phone our staff on 07 5593 3733. For any after-hours assistance, please check the following information for solutions as a first point of call. If, however, you can’t find any relief then email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Pain and discomfort is a typical side-effect of orthodontic treatment and while we warn patients that they will likely experience some pain and discomfort, some patients find it worse than others. In most cases, patients will experience pain 4-6 hours after braces have been put on and after adjustment appointments. The pain tends to gradually get worse over the next few days, however it will begin to subside after 3-5 days.
Our orthodontists recommend patients take over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatory medication before and after adjustment appointments. As the medication will already be in your system when the pain sets in, it will be far more effective.
After braces have been initially attached to patients’ teeth, they will commonly experience some mouth pain and discomfort because the metal brackets rubs against their tongue, lips, and cheeks. It takes the mouth several days or even a week to adjust to braces and develop callous tissue. During the early stages of treatment, orthodontic wax can be applied to areas of the mouth which are painful, however the more the wax that is used the longer it will take to develop callous tissue.
To help any mouth sores or minor cuts get better quickly, it’s recommended to rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt. If the discomfort is too painful, ensure you use temporary pain relief such as the braces pain relief gel which was provided at the start of treatment.
If you experience any serious dental injuries with braces, you should seek immediate care from your physician or dentist. Dental injuries can be very traumatic to patients, however braces have been known to prevent tooth loss due to the significant support they provide to the teeth. If you’re unsure how severe a dental injury is, contact our staff on 07 5593 3733 as soon as possible.
During the early stages of orthodontic treatment, the archwire used in conjunction with the brackets has no place to go after significant teeth movement except for out the back of the braces. In the majority of cases, applying orthodontic wax which was provided at the start of treatment is all that’s required. Simply dry the wire first with a paper towel then apply a ball of wax to the end of the poking wire. This will smooth the area and prevent the poking wire from causing any pain or discomfort inside the mouth.
Swollen gums generally occur when patients display poor oral hygiene due to the increased difficulty of cleaning their mouth with braces. It’s vital that patients regularly clean any plaque and food debris that may accumulate during the day, along with attending regular dental check-ups and cleaning. If you experience swollen gums, you should contact your family dentist for an appointment. In the meantime, clean your mouth thoroughly and use dental floss to see if you can remove any food debris which may be trapped under a band or bracket. A temporary solution which may ease the pain before you consult your dentist is to regularly rinse your mouth with warm salty water.
When your gums bleed (usually when flossing), it’s a clear indicator that your gums aremost likely swollen from poor oral hygiene. It’s common for people to avoid flossing if their gums bleed, however this clearly only makes the situation worse. It’s paramount that you maintain good oral health when wearing braces, including gentle and regular brushing and flossing which reduces gum inflammation and bleeding. If your gums continue to bleed for no apparent reason, contact your dentist for a check-up.
If you experience any broken or loose braces, contact our staff so we can advise you on the best course of action. In most cases, broken or loose braces isn’t an urgent problem as the bracket is still connected by the wire which will prevent you from swallowing it. Of course, the broken bracket can still be annoying from moving and spinning around the wire, so use a bit of orthodontic wax on the bracket to stop it from moving. If the bracket comes off, just place it in a zip-lock bag and bring it to your next appointment.
It’s important that you contact our staff in the event that you have a broken or loose bracket as you may need to reschedule or come in earlier for your next appointment to give us time to fix the bracket.
If a band (ring around the back teeth) comes loose, it’s recommended that you get in touch with us as soon as you’re aware. The band is typically cemented to the tooth with an adhesive that protects the inner section of the band from plaque and saliva. While you’ll be in no immediate harm, the band can damage the surface of the tooth over time due to a build-up of plaque and bacteria.
If you need to have your retainer replaced, you’ll need to get in touch with our staff to determine whether it needs to be replaced urgently. There are several variables which need to be considered, such as the amount of time since your braces were removed and which teeth were moved during the teeth straightening process. There is a greater chance your teeth will relapse if your braces were recently removed as opposed to a year ago, and issues such as a gap between your upper front teeth have a greater tendency to relapse than gaps between other teeth. The best way to keep your teeth straight is with retention, so simply contact us to find out how soon you need your retainer replaced.
Appliances such as a widening plate (or RPE) are used under the roof of the mouth to widen a patients’ upper jaw and teeth. If this plate comes loose or it’s not in the proper position, it can be rather uncomfortable and you can lose the correction that has already been achieved from this appliance. It’s recommended that you speak with our staff to determine how urgent you need to see your orthodontist to have the appliance repaired.
While it’s very rare, there have been instances where a patient has swallowed braces or other appliances whilst undergoing orthodontic treatment. If a bracket or band breaks, they are still typically attached to the wire so it normally isn’t a problem. Despite this, if you swallow any braces or other appliances, speak with your orthodontist or physician as soon as possible. Orthodontic brackets and appliances are relatively small so patients generally pass them without difficulty.
If you find that a rubber spacer has fallen out, all you need to do is take two pieces of dental floss and insert them through the spacer. Stretch the spacer by pulling on both pieces of dental floss then slide the spacer back and forth between the two teeth where it belongs. When the bottom half of the spacer slips under the tight area between the teeth, remove the dental floss and the spacer should fit back properly. If you’re unable to position the spacer back in your mouth, just give our staff a call to schedule an appointment. In most cases, you can prevent losing any spacers by avoiding sticky foods and temporarily avoiding flossing the teeth that have spacers in them.
If you lose a set of aligners, it’s paramount that you contact our staff immediately so we can advise you on the best course of action. Considering that your teeth are currently moving, we don’t want them going off track which results in additional work and possibly a delayed finish. This can also result in additional charges in some circumstances (from $595).
If you lose your aligners after-hours, just use the previous aligners if you still have them or use the following set of aligners if you don’t. Contact us immediately by emailing email@example.com (check if needs to be changed) and provide us with the following information:
- Which aligners did you lose? (e.g. upper 13)
- How long were you wearing this set of aligners? (e.g. 4 days full-time)
- What are the previous and next set of aligners?
Lastly, use your aligner chewie’s more frequently. At a minimum, use your chewie’s 3 times each day and 2 minutes for each spot.
If, for whatever reason, we ask you to send us photos of your teeth, you’ll probably need to ask someone for help so we can see as many teeth as possible. Taking photos on your own can undoubtedly be tricky, and it’s important that you are biting normally on your back teeth and not pushing your jaws sideways, forwards, or backwards. The best results are achieved when the photos are clear and you are using the flash. Try to emulate the examples provided below.
- Left side: using two fingers to pull your lips to the side and biting down on your back teeth.
- Right side: using two fingers to pull your lips to the side and biting down on your back teeth.
- Centre: using two fingers to pull your lips away from your teeth and opening your mouth slightly to show the edges of your teeth.
- Lower: using both index fingers to pull down your lower lip to show all your lower teeth.
- Upper: using both index fingers to pull up on your upper lip to show all your upper teeth.
- Centre bite: Biting down on your back teeth first then using two fingers to pull your lips away from your teeth.