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What Constitutes an Orthodontic Emergency?

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What Constitutes an Orthodontic Emergency?

A real orthodontic emergency is very different from the normal tenderness or soreness associated with orthodontic treatment. Find out how to tell if you have an emergency, and what you should do if you do have an emergency.


First, knowing what to to expect in terms of pain and soreness can really help, as they are normal parts of your orthodontic treatment.

Although orthodontic treatment isn't usually painful, at times throughout treatment your mouth, teeth, and jaw may feel sore, tender, or painful.

For example, you can expect to feel some soreness when your braces are first applied. This is because your teeth and mouth will need time to adjust to the braces, so during the days following their application, your teeth may feel tender, and the new braces may irritate the inside of your cheek and lips.

This may be uncomfortable for a short while, but your mouth will grow accustomed to the braces, and you be feeling normal again in no time.

You may also feel some discomfort after an adjustment appointment (or, if you have Invisalign, after you change to the next set of aligners).

Again, your teeth may feel sore for a little while after this, because they’ll need to adjust to the new position and pressure of the braces, but it will pass fairly quickly.

This kind of soreness is not an emergency.

You can deal with this kind of soreness by taking an over-the-counter pain killer, or rinsing with a salt water wash. Applying ice your face can also help soothe any inflammation.

As your teeth move, your wires may start to poke the inside of your cheek. To get it out of the way, use a blunt object, such as a spoon, to to push it down temporarily. Then make an appointment with us. We'll clip off the excess wire, and make any necessary adjustments.

So what is an orthodontic emergency?

The following count as orthodontic emergencies:

  • when you’re feeling intense pain that can’t be quelled using the methods described above, or
  • when your orthodontic appliance or braces have broken, or if a wire is jabbing painfully into your cheek, and you can’t temporarily fix it yourself.

Please call us as soon as possible if you find yourself in either of these situations, and we’ll do our best to get you a same-day appointment.

In the meantime, apply ice to the affected area. If part of your orthodontic appliance or braces has broken off try to find it, and bring it along with you to your appointment.

If you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment or think you may have an orthodontic emergency, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Austin Heights Orthodontics. We can help!