Even when you try your best to care for your teeth and braces properly, orthodontic emergencies can strike. That said, orthodontic emergencies can be hard to differentiate from orthodontic issues that aren't really emergencies. Here's how you can tell the difference...
Is the pain I'm feeling normal?
A little bit of soreness is a normal part of any orthodontic treatment, and understanding what to expect in terms of discomfort can really help you spot when an orthodontic emergency is happening to you.
It is normal for orthodontic patients to report feeling some pain or discomfort periodically throughout their treatment. Over the course of your treatment, your mouth, teeth, and jaw are bound to feel sore, tender, or painful at times.
When is it normal for me to experience discomfort?
When your braces are first applied you are very likely to experience some pain or discomfort. Your teeth and mouth are going to need some time to adjust to your new braces, or dental appliance. Expect your teeth to feel a little tender when you first get your braces, and the brackets and wires may irritate the delicate soft tissues inside your mouth a bit. Although this is uncomfortable, it isn't likely to last long. Your mouth will gradually grow accustomed to the braces, and you'll begin feeling normal again in no time.
If you're experiencing discomfort due to irritation of your cheeks and lips, try applying some orthodontic wax to the bracket causing the issue. Orthodontic wax can offer instant relief of irritation.
After an adjustment appointment, or when you change to your next set of aligners, there's a good chance you will experience some discomfort. Just like when you first got your braces, your mouth needs a little time to adjust to the new position of your teeth, aligners, and pressure of the braces, but it will pass fairly quickly.
Is this an orthodontic emergency?
No. These things are not orthodontic emergencies.
- Mild Pain or Inflammation - If you are experiencing the pain and discomfort mentioned above, keep in mind that it's completely normal and should be expected when you begin your journey to a straighter smile. You can deal with this kind of soreness by taking an over-the-counter pain killer, rinsing with salt water, or applying orthodontic wax to a troublesome bracket or wire. Applying ice your face can also help to soothe inflammation.
- Poking Scratching Wires - During your treatment, as your teeth shift towards their new positions your wires may start to poke the inside of your cheek. To get the irritating wire out of the way and relieve the irritation, simply use a blunt object, such as a spoon, to to push it down temporarily, then give us a call to book an appointment to have the excess wire clipped off.
Yes! You are having an orthodontic emergency!
Now that you know what isn't an orthodontic emergency here are a few examples of real orthodontic emergencies:
- Intense Pain - If you’re feeling intense pain that can’t be dispelled using the methods described contact your orthodontist right away to schedule an emergency appointment. While mild discomfort is normal severe pain is not!
- A Broken Appliance - If 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 contact your orthodontic office to schedule an emergency appointment ASAP.
After you have booked your emergency appointment, apply ice the affected area to help soothe pain, or if part of your orthodontic appliance or braces has broken off try to find it, and bring it along to your appointment.