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Handling Orthodontic Issues at Home

Due to COVID-19, Christenson Family Orthodontics is postponing any non-emergent appointments and you may be wondering how to handle potential orthodontic issues at home. While there are steps you can take to temporarily fix or alleviate discomfort and prevent additional damage, please call the office and let us know what’s going on! Contact us if you have any concerns about your braces or treatment during this time. Many times, we will be able to handle the issue over the phone or virtually through video communication.

Tools + Supplies
With these tools and supplies on hand, you will be prepared to handle the most common orthodontic issues:

Orthodontic relief wax
Dental floss
Disinfected tweezers
Interproximal brush
Non-prescription pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
Topical Anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel)

Lost O-ring
An “O” ring is the tiny rubber band or sometimes a very thin wire (ligature), that holds the orthodontic wire in the bracket/brace. If a rubber o-ring should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using disinfected tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with the tweezers. If the wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation. Should this happen, be sure to contact your orthodontist to notify them and come up with a plan for repair.

It’s normal to have some discomfort during orthodontic treatment as your teeth move however it should not last longer than a couple days. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water and over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may alleviate some discomfort. If the discomfort lasts longer than a couple days, be sure to call your orthodontist to discuss.

Mouth Sores
Some patients are susceptible to episodes of mouth sores. While braces do not cause them, they may be precipitated or exacerbated by an irritation from braces. One or several areas of ulceration of the cheeks, lips or tongue may appear. This is not an emergency but may be very uncomfortable. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab – reapply as needed. If after a couple days the discomfort does not resolve, call your orthodontist to discuss.

Irritation in Mouth
Sometimes braces or wires can be irritating to the mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of orthodontic relief wax makes an excellent buffer between metal and mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. We have put a tin outside of the front door of our office with wax and rubber bands.  Stop by anytime and get what you need!

Protruding Wire
Occasionally the end of a wire will work itself out of place and can irritate the mouth. Use a Q-tip or clean tweezer and try to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. Should changes with your wires occur during this time be sure to contact your orthodontist to make them aware of the issue.

Loose Braces or Bands
If the braces or bands have come loose in any way, call the office to determine appropriate next steps.  We will not be able to put any braces or bands back on at this time, but if they are on the wire and causing irritation, we may have you come in to get it taken off.  If a bracket or wire does come off at home, please put it in a zip-lock bag and bring it with you to your next appointment.

We sincerely hope that you are all safe and healthy.  Remember to brush your teeth and wash your hands.  We all need to do our part to keep the Coronavirus from spreading through our community!  We look forward to seeing all our wonderful patients again soon!!