School will soon be out in most parts of the country and summer vacation will be here. Do you know what to do if you have an orthodontic emergency while you are out of town, on vacation, or away at camp? Here are some tips from Dr. Lisa P. Howard DDS MS and her orthodontic team in Scarborough ME.
Fortunately, most problems with your braces don’t qualify as true emergencies. Let’s talk about a few things you can do while you are away to avoid the inconvenience and expense of trying to find an orthodontist in an unfamiliar area. Here are some helpful hints on what to do if you have a problem with your braces.
Take a mini emergency kit with you – Include orthodontic wax, nail clippers or small pair of wire cutters, tweezers, a pencil with an eraser, and our phone number if you need guidance.
Irritation of your lips or cheeks – apply wax to the area causing the irritation. Follow the instructions on the package. If you don’t have wax or run out, sugarless gum works well. If any sores develop, go to a local drug store and buy topical anesthetics like Orabase or Orajel to temporarily numb the area till you return and we can fix the problem.
Poking or protruding wire – Occasionally, the arch wire extends in the back or may come right out of the bracket when chewing gum, hard candy, and sticky foods. Use a pencil eraser or something soft to push the wire flat against your teeth. Add wax or sugarless gum to the end of the wire if needed to prevent irritation. If the main wire breaks, you can clip the wire with a pair of nail clippers, flush to the next anchored bracket – just remember to disinfect the clippers or wire cutters first with rubbing alcohol, if handy, or use the flame on a lighter to kill the germs. Once the wire is clipped, make sure to avoid swallowing the clipped piece of wire.
Loose band– If a band around one of your back teeth comes loose, don’t worry about it unless it is causing problems while your eat. Worst-case scenario, clip the main wire with nail clippers flush to the next bracket and remove the loose band. Apply wax or sugarless gum if needed to avoid irritation from the cut wire. We can repair when you return.
Loose bracket – Hard foods are the main cause of loose brackets. During the summer, we all tend to be more lax with our normal routines. However, out of town is not the time to take a chance breaking a bracket by not following the restricted diet. If a bracket does come loose from a tooth, remove the bracket with a pair of disinfected tweezers if you can and continue on your merry way. Don’t forget to contact us when you return so we can schedule an appt to replace the bracket. It is difficult to repair an emergency during your regular appointment when there isn’t sufficient time scheduled to repair.
Loose ligature wire or elastic – If a small elastic ligature (the piece that attaches the archwire to the bracket) comes partially or all the way off your braces, use a pair of disinfected tweezers to put it back into place. If a ligature is lost, don’t worry about it. Call us when you return.
If you experience a true emergency where you are so uncomfortable you can’t wait till you get back, contact the local dental society for an orthodontist recommendation. You can also search on your cell phone for an orthodontist nearest you. Most orthodontists provide and emergency contact number when out of the office and will help an out of town patient with a problem they cannot easily attend to on their own. A local emergency room is always a last resort.
Also, don’t hesitate to give us a call to ask us for guidance if you don’t know what to do. Our goal at the orthodontic offices of Lisa P. Howard DDS MS is to provide you with a terrific smile, and – just as important – to be sure you are comfortable and safe throughout the course of your treatment, even when you are away.
Do you have any out of town orthodontic emergency experiences you would like to share with us? Leave a comment below.