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How to Recognize an Orthodontic Emergency

Posted Feb 15th, 2022

Orthodontic emergencies can suddenly occur at any time. However, it could be tricky to determine if it can wait a couple of days or if it needs to be addressed immediately. Here, our orthodontists in Burnaby list some ways that can help you determine if you are having an orthodontic emergency.

Is It Normal to Feel Pain?

It's normal to experience a little bit of discomfort during your orthodontic treatment, and knowing what you can expect in terms of pain can help you identify an orthodontic emergency if you happen to have one.

It's common for orthodontic patients to experience some pain or discomfort periodically throughout their treatment. As teeth gradually shift into their new positions, your jaw, teeth, and mouth are naturally going to feel a bit sore at times.

Normal Orthodontic Discomfort vs Pain

It's very normal to have some discomfort or pain when your first have your braces fitted at the beginning of your treatment. Your mouth needs some time to adjust to your new dental appliance or braces. Plan for your teeth to feel a little tender when your braces are first applied, the brackets and wires may also slightly irritate the insides of your mouth. While it can be uncomfortable, it typically doesn't last long. Over the span of a few days, your mouth will steadily adjust to your braces, and you'll start getting back to normal.

If the pain you are experiencing is due to cheek and lip irritation, you can get a bit of instant relief by applying a ball of orthodontic wax over the bothersome bracket.

After an adjustment appointment or switching to your next set of aligners, you will most likely feel a little discomfort. Your mouth just requires time to get accustomed to the new position of your teeth and the pressure being applied by the aligners or braces, but this discomfort should go away relatively quickly.

Is This an Orthodontic Emergency?

NOT an Orthodontic Emergency

  • Mild Pain or Inflammation - The examples of pain and discomfort mentioned above, are completely normal and should be expected when you start having your teeth straightened. Rinsing your mouth with saltwater, taking an over-the-counter pain killer, or applying orthodontic wax to an irritating bracket or wire should help to alleviate your discomfort. Applying ice to your face could also help to ease any inflammation.
  • Poking Scratching Wires - As your teeth gradually shift towards their new positions your wires may start to poke the inside of your cheek. To help get the irritating wire out of the way and relieve the irritation, use a blunt object, such as a spoon, to push it down temporarily, then contact your orthodontist to book an appointment to have the excess wire clipped off.

Yes! You Are Having Orthodontic Emergency!

Now that you understand what doesn't count as an orthodontic emergency, we have listed some examples of orthodontic situations that require immediate emergency care:

  • Intense Pain - Intense pain that can’t be alleviated with any of the methods detailed above, is considered an orthodontic emergency. Call your orthodontist immediately to arrange an emergency appointment. Severe pain is never normal!
  • A Broken Appliance - If your braces (or other orthodontic appliance) breaks, or if there is a wire painfully jabbing into your cheek, and you can’t fix it temporarily on your own contact your orthodontic office straight away and book an emergency appointment.

After you have called your orthodontist's office and scheduled your emergency appointment, apply ice to the area that hurts to help manage the pain, or if a piece of your braces has broken off try to find it, and bring it to your appointment.

Are you experiencing an orthodontic emergency? Contact our Burnaby orthodontists as quickly as possible to schedule an emergency appointment.

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