The difference between the normal discomfort associated with wearing braces, and a true orthodontic emergency, is not always clear to everyone. We'd like to shed some light on the issue here, and let you know what you should do if you do have an emergency.
First, it will be helpful to know what to expect, in terms of pain and soreness, as a normal part of your orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic treatment is usually not painful, but there will be times throughout treatment that your mouth, teeth, and jaw may feel sore, tender, or painful.
One of these times is when the braces are first applied. Your teeth and mouth will need some time to adjust to the braces, so during the days following your braces 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.
Another point at which you may feel some discomfort is after an adjustment appointment (or, if you’re using Invisalign, after you change to the next set of aligners).
Your teeth may feel somewhat sore for a little while after this, because they’ll need to adjust to the new position and pressure of the braces. Again, this will pass fairly quickly.
This kind of soreness is not an emergency.
To deal with this normal soreness, take an over-the-counter pain killer, or use a salt water wash to flush your mouth out. You can also ice your face a bit to soothe any inflammation.
As your teeth move, your wires may start to poke the inside of your cheek. If this happens, use a blunt object, such as a spoon, to get it out of the way temporarily, and make an appointment with us. We can clip off the excess wire, and make the necessary adjustments.
So what is an orthodontic emergency?
Orthodontic emergencies are either
- when you’re feeling an intense amount of pain that can’t be quelled using the methods described above, or
- if your orthodontic appliance or braces are broken, or if a wire is jabbing painfully into your cheek, and you can’t temporarily fix it yourself.
Please call our practice as soon as possible if you experience either of these situations, and we’ll do our best to get you a same-day appointment.
In the meantime, ice the affected area. And if any parts of your orthodontic appliance or braces has broken off try to find it, and bring it along with you to your appointment.