With more than 40 years serving our community, there are very few orthodontic emergencies we haven’t yet experienced.

We’ve seen it all – including dogs eating retainers (which happens more often than you’d think!). Here are some ways you can resolve a minor braces issue until you can get into one of our offices.

Broken brackets are the most common problem that we face. This is not a true emergency, but it shouldn’t be ignored. A quick call to our office can get you scheduled for an appointment to rebond the bracket to your tooth. If the bracket falls off completely, be sure to save it and bring it with you. If it is still on the wire, but detached from the tooth, you can use some orthodontic wax to secure it back in place until we can rebond it.

To avoid breaking your brackets, we advise all of our patients to monitor their eating habits. That means avoiding foods that are too hard, crunchy, chewy or sticky.

Poking wires tend to occur in the back of the mouth where the wire can sometimes slide out of the last bracket. This tends to happen more in the beginning of treatment because we use the most flexible thin wires at this point, which means they could be bent out of place during chewing. Be sure you adhere to a braces-friendly diet to help prevent this. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible so we can fix it. In some cases, if the wire is irritating, we may recommend clipping it at home with sanitized nail clippers.

Poking or irritating wires can occasionally happen during the course of your treatment. Orthodontic wax can be used over the offending area to provide comfort.

Palatal expanders that won’t turn is a common issue we see. This is almost always due to the previous turn not being fully complete. Before attempting a new turn, be sure the previous turn was fully completed. You can tell if this is the case because the expander key will fit all the way in the back. In a turn that was completed, the expander key will be in the front. If this continues to be an issue, we recommend scheduling an appointment so we can finish the last turn and demonstrate how to properly turn the key for each expansion turn.

Lost retainers are another common issue we address. Retainers are crucial to ensuring your orthodontic result once your braces are removed. It is important that you call us as soona s possible so we can prevent any undesired tooth movement or misalignment. At Westwalk Orthodontic Group, we know that accidents can happen so we are proud to offer a Retainers for Life program. For a small co-pay, our patients can receive four replacement retainers a year for life.

Please follow these care instructions to prevent damaging or losing your retainer:

  • Keep them away from dogs, because they love to chew them.
  • If the retainer is not in your mouth, it should be in the retainer case.
  • Avoid placing the retainer in a paper towel or napkin.
  • Do not boil retainers.
  • Keep the retainer very clean to avoid foul odors.
  • Do not microwave the retainers.
  • Wear the retainer as instructed by your orthodontist to prevent any tooth movement.

Cracked or broken removable retainers can happen, especially in the first several months after braces are removed and the retainers are worn around the clock. We can typically fix or adjust the retainer to maintain its functionality, depending on where the damage is. However, if the retainer can no longer effectively do its job due to the damage, we will recommend a new retainer,

Broken fixed retainers typically occur with the bonding material adhering the retainer to the teeth is weakened or lost. If this happens, we will clean the tooth properly and re-bond the retainer. In some cases, the fixed retainer can fall off completely. If this happens, we will replace the entire retainer. Fixed retainers use a thin metal bar that is placed on the inside of the front teeth to ensure their alignment. If you notice any movement in your fixed retainer, please call our office as soon as possible so we can correct it and prevent any unwanted tooth movement.

Lost spacers (separator) are not an emergency and do not require replacement. We place spacers a few days before braces are placed, and as the necessary space develops, the spacer may fall out.

Colored elastics hold the wire to the brackets, and can sometimes fall off. If this happens, please call our office because this means the wire is no longer held onto that bracket. If you are several weeks out from your next appointment and experience any of these issues, we will do our best to schedule a quick appointment to get a new elastic back in place in order to prevent any undesired tooth movement.