young people smiling with a dog

Tools & Supplies

With these tools and supplies on hand, you will be prepared to handle the most common orthodontic emergencies. Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax

  • Dental floss
  • Small, sharp clipper
  • Q-tips
  • Salt
  • Interproximal brush
  • Toothpicks
  • Non-prescription pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen supplied by the parent/guardian-use only with written permission of the orthodontist and parent/guardian)
  • Topical Anesthetic (Such as Orabase or Ora-Gel)
girl smiles

Food Caught Between Teeth

This is not an emergency, but can be a little unportable or embarrassing. It is easily fixed with a piece of dental floss. Try tying a small knot in the middle of he floss to help remove the food. Or use an interproximal brush or toothpick to dislodge food caught between teeth and braces.

boy smiles with braces

Lost Wire or Ligature

Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber or wire ligature is lost, contact the office so that the orthodontist may be advise whether the patient should be seen.

girl smiles with braces

Ligature Come Off

If a rubber ligature should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile 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 he irritation. Of course, when one ligature pops off or braces, others may follow. Be sure to examine all ligatures, missing or broken ligatures should be brought to the attention or your parents, who should then inform your orthodontist.

boy smiles with braces


It's normal for a patient to have discomfort for a day or two after braces or retainers are adjusted. but it can make eating uncomfortable. The discomfort is normal and temporary, eat soft foods and rinse the mouth with normal warm salt and water. If you are allowed to have over-the-counter pain relievers, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be effective.

Mouth Sores

Some patients are susceptible to episodes of mouth sores. White 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 for the patient. 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.

girl smiles

Irritation in Mouth

Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when the patient is eating. A small amount of non-medicinal 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. You can then eat lunch more comfortably. If the wax is accidentally ingested it's not a problem. The wax is harmless.

boy smiles

Protruding Wire

Occasionally the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate your mouth. Use a Q-tip or pensil creaser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a confortable position, cover it with relief wax. Make your orthodontist aware of the problem.

In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome and the patient will not be able to see the orthodontist anytime soon, as a last resort, you may clip the wire. Reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area. Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Relief wax may still be necessary to provide confort to the irritated area.

gril smiles with braces

Loose Wires, Brackets or Bands

If the braces have come loose in any way, you should call your orthodontist to determine appropriate next steps.

A Bracket is Knocked Off

Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They are generally positioned in the center of each tooth. The bracket can be knocked off if you eat one of those hard or crunchy foods orthodontic patients are instructed to avoid, or if the mouth is struck while play. (Wear a protective mouth guard while playing sports). if the bracket is off center, the adhesive may have failed.