Orthodontic Emergency: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

We don’t usually associate orthodontic treatment with the term ’emergency.’ Yet, like with many health-related procedures, unexpected issues can arise. Knowing what to do when things don’t go as planned is essential, whether it’s a sudden discomfort from a braces’ bracket or a broken retainer. Thankfully, with Dr. Laura Davis and the team at Davis Family Orthodontics in Lawrenceville, Morrow, Stone Mountain & Loganville, GA, you’re never alone in these moments.

1. Identifying the Emergency

Orthodontic emergencies, while rare, can range from mild discomforts to urgent situations requiring immediate attention. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Broken or Loose Brackets: This is common, especially after one consumes hard or sticky food. While not a dire emergency, it’s best to get it fixed to keep the treatment on track.
  • Poking Wires: Sometimes, a wire might jut out and irritate. A temporary fix involves pushing the wire into a comfortable position using a pencil’s eraser end, but you should see your orthodontist soon.
  • Lost or Broken Retainers: A significant issue, as retainers play a crucial role in maintaining teeth alignment post-treatment. If lost or broken, contact your orthodontist promptly to get a replacement.
  • Severe Pain or Swelling: Rare but possible, this can indicate an infection or severe injury. Seek immediate medical or orthodontic attention.

2. Steps to Alleviate Discomfort

While awaiting professional care, there are ways to minimize discomfort:

  • Salt Water Rinses: Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Swish it around your mouth for about a minute and spit. This can help alleviate minor irritations caused by braces.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers can help manage pain, but always follow the recommended dosage and guidelines.
  • Dental Wax: This can be applied over braces’ irritating components, offering relief until your next orthodontic appointment.

3. Preventing Orthodontic Emergencies

In the realm of orthodontics, the saying “prevention is better than cure” rings especially true. While we can’t predict every twist and turn, a little foresight can go a long way in minimizing unexpected issues. Here’s a more in-depth look at how you can stay ahead of potential orthodontic mishaps:

  • Dietary Considerations: The food you consume can directly impact the longevity and stability of your orthodontic appliances. Hard foods like popcorn kernels or ice can lead to broken brackets or bent wires. Sticky foods such as caramels or chewing gum can get lodged in between braces or even pull them off. Conversely, chewy foods can exert undue pressure on your braces, causing potential displacement. By being mindful of your diet and opting for softer foods or cutting them into bite-sized pieces, you can prevent unnecessary damage to your orthodontic equipment.
  • Wear a Mouthguard: Active lifestyles come with their set of challenges, especially for those with braces or retainers. A stray ball, an unexpected fall, or a sudden clash can all threaten your orthodontic treatment. Investing in a good-quality mouthguard protects your orthodontic appliances from potential damage and protects your gums and inner cheeks from cuts or bruises. If you’re wearing braces, consider asking your orthodontist for a custom-fit mouthguard, ensuring maximum protection and comfort.
  • Regular Check-ups: These are more than just routine appointments; they are your first line of defense against budding issues. Regularly visiting Dr. Laura Davis at Davis Family Orthodontics in Lawrenceville, Morrow, Stone Mountain, or Loganville, GA, ensures that your orthodontic progress is on track. These check-ups allow for timely identification and rectification of loose or broken appliances. Plus, they offer an opportunity for you to address any concerns or discomforts you might be experiencing.

In essence, while orthodontic emergencies might seem daunting, a proactive approach can significantly reduce their occurrence. Your commitment to following these preventive measures, combined with your orthodontist’s expertise, ensures that your journey to a perfect smile remains as smooth as possible.

4. Davis Family Orthodontics: Your Trusted Partner in Orthodontic Care

With locations in Lawrenceville, Morrow, Stone Mountain, and Loganville, GA, Dr. Laura Davis and her team are committed to providing expert care when you need it most. Their approach addresses immediate concerns and educates patients on preventive measures, ensuring fewer hitches in their orthodontic journey.

Ready Assistance When You Need It Most

Orthodontic emergencies, while unsettling, are manageable with the right knowledge and a dependable orthodontic team by your side. With Dr. Laura Davis and Davis Family Orthodontics, you can rest assured that expert assistance is just a call away. Facing an orthodontic hiccup? Contact us at Davis Family Orthodontics – we’re here to guide you every step of the way.


  1. American Association of Orthodontists – Emergency Care
  2. Orthodontic Emergency Procedures – WebMD
  3. Handling Orthodontic Issues at Home – Colgate
board-certified orthodontics

Ready for Your New Smile?

Dr. Laura Davis and the staff at Davis Family Orthodontics are committed to maintaining the highest standards in orthodontic care and providing the best possible service to our patients. Our practice boasts state-of-the-art equipment and a caring, professional staff in a friendly, inviting environment.