What to Do When You Have an Orthodontic “Emergency”

Posted On: February 16, 2017

While we know that orthodontic “emergencies” are not life-and-death situations, some situations may occur that can cause discomfort with your metal braces, ceramic braces (also known as clear braces), Invisalign, or other orthodontic appliances.

During orthodontic treatment you may find that a wire on your braces will poke or rub your cheek; your Invisalign aligner may break; or you may accidentally eat something that causes a problem. If that occurs the information below will help answer some of the most common questions regarding these emergency situations. It will also help you prevent these types of adult and child orthodontic emergencies from occurring with metal braces, ceramic braces (or clear braces), or while wearing Invisalign aligners.

Remember that your teeth can be very tender for about a week after the initial placement of the orthodontic appliances and also after each adjustment. This discomfort while wearing ceramic braces (or clear braces), metal braces, or Invisalign is similar to a headache type of feeling. Discomfort can be relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin. Follow the dosage recommendations and any additional precautions as listed on the bottle. Some patients find it helpful to take the first dose right after their appointment time to help prevent some of the discomfort.

During the first two weeks of orthodontic treatment, the inside of your cheeks may be tender due to rubbing. As time goes by, the inside of the cheeks will toughen up, but while they are still sensitive using wax on the rough spots can be helpful. Also try warm salt water rinses which soothe the cheek lining.

Some orthodontic inconveniences are normal. Many times repairs can be put off until your next regular appointment. Of course, we are here to serve you and encourage you to call any time you have a question concerning your metal or ceramic braces, or your Invisalign treatment.

Hints to make your orthodontic treatment easier.


A clean mouth is a healthy mouth! If the gum tissue bleeds easily or is swollen – brush more, not less (even if it bleeds). Flossing is even more important than brushing to keep plaque from forming in between teeth where the gums usually tend to get puffy from the braces.

Remember bleeding is a sign of disease (gum disease in this case). If the bleeding does not stop after about a week you are probably still leaving some plaque behind. Ask us about better brushing and flossing tips.


Avoid hard, sticky foods. No chewing on ice, pens, pencils, or fingernails!


If you have an area of your braces that is poking, use a small piece of wax, roll it into a tiny ball and apply to the sharp area. In place of wax, some people find sugar-free gum works well.


Discomfort can be relieved by over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil or Aspirin. Follow the dosage recommendations on the bottle.


Soft tissue inflammation can be helped with a warm salt rinse. Put about a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and rinse several times. Repeat as needed.

When and Why To Call Your Orthodontic Office

  • If you have a loose band, bracket, Herbst or MARA appliance, broken wires on your metal or ceramic braces, or have issues with your Invisalign treatment, we will schedule an appointment to make you comfortable again or repair as needed.
  • When something is causing sharp pain and you cannot get relief with wax or non-prescription pain relievers please contact the office and schedule an appointment to have the problem checked.
  • When something has changed or is missing on your metal braces, ceramic braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic appliance so that you cannot follow the instructions from the last appointment: for example, the attachment for rubber band wear is missing, etc.
  • If you lose or break your retainers please call the office ASAP to be scheduled to make new retainers.