Caring for Teeth With Braces and Retainers
What to Do If a Bracket or Wire Breaks
Broken braces, loose bands, or protruding wires can cause problems but rarely require emergency treatment. However, do call your orthodontist to set up an office visit to fix the problem. If you suffer a more severe mouth or facial injury, seek immediate help. Here's some tips to get through some of the more common problems until you are able to see your orthodontist:
- Loose brackets. Apply a small piece of orthodontic wax to temporarily reattach loose brackets or place wax over the bracket to provide a cushion between the bracket and your gums and other soft tissues of the mouth. Your orthodontist usually provides orthodontic wax to you when you first get braces.
- Loose bands. These will need to be replaced or recemented into place. Save the band and schedule an appointment for the repair.
- Protruding or broken wire. Use an eraser end of a pencil to move the wire to a less bothersome position. If you can't move it out of the way, apply a small amount of orthodontic wax over the protruding end. Do not attempt to cut the wire because you might accidentally swallow it or inhale it into your lungs. If a mouth sore develops from the wire poking the inside the mouth, rinse your mouth with warm salt water or an antiseptic rinse. An over-the-counter dental anesthetic can also be applied to numb the area.
- Loose spacers. These will need to be repositioned or replaced if they slip or fall out completely.
Other Problems With Braces and Retainers
Because braces and retainers brush up against the inside surface of the mouth, you may be more prone to developing canker sores. If a canker sore develops, your orthodontist or dentist may prescribe a corticosteroid ointment or a prescription or nonprescription solution to reduce the pain and irritation and help heal the sore.