First Aid

Although true orthodontic emergencies are rare, we are here to help you when they happen.  If you are in severe pain or have a problem that you cannot resolve on your own, call the office. Our orthodontic team will be able to give you advice on how to solve the problem yourself or schedule you the appropriate appointment so that we can resolve any discomfot. If you are out of town, try to obtain help from the nearest orthodontist in the area.

There is a good chance that you may be able to temporarily resolve many of the simple issues yourself until we can see you at the earliest appointment.  It is helpful to get to know the names of the parts of your appliances so you can identify the broken or loose part(s).  After alleviating the discomfort, please call our office to schedule a time to repair the problem as soon as possible.

Braces – A word commonly used to describe a fixed orthodontic appliance, usually comprised of brackets, bands and wires.  The diagram below illustrates and names each part of a typical set of braces.

A. Ligature

The archwire is held to each bracket with a ligature, which can be either a tiny elastic or a twisted wire.

B. Archwire

The archwire is tied to all of the brackets and creates force to move teeth into proper alignment.

C. Brackets

Brackets are connected to the bands, or directly bonded on the teeth, and hold the archwire in place.

D. Metal Band

The band is the cemented ring of metal which wraps around the tooth.

E. Bracket Hooks

The bracket or band extensions that are used for the attachment of rubber bands. Below is a list of common braces problems and how they may be remedied at home:

Poking Wire

Sometimes a slight discomfort from the wire can be resolved by using a cotton swab or eraser to push in the wire. If the wire will not move, try drying the wire with a cotton ball and cover the end with wax. If the wire still pokes, use a nail clipper (wipe with alcohol first) to cut the wire. Call the office if you still have discomfort.

Loose Wire

Using tweezers, try to place your wire back into place. If doing this and using wax doesn’t help, as a last resort use a small nail clipper (wipe with alcohol first) to cut the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened.  If your discomfort continues, place wax on it.

Loose Bracket or Band

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and apply wax on it to relieve the discomfort.  If it comes out entirely, wrap bracket or band with a tissue and bring it to your next appointment.

Lost Separator

This is common as the teeth move apart after separator placement.  Floss between the teeth where the separator was lost. If the contact is open and your next appointment is in 1 or 2 days, replacement is not necessary. If it is tight, call us to replace the separator.

General Soreness

For any soreness after an adjustment or any time while wearing your appliances, take Tylenol, or Advil.

Headgear or removable appliance not fitting properly

Please call our office so we can schedule an appointment to have it adjusted.


Use wax and rinse your mouth with warm salt water mouthwash (1/2 tsp. of salt in a small glass of warm water) or topical anesthetic paste such as Orabase-B Ointment (with Benzocaine).

Lost colored rubber band on brace

Please notify us at your next appointment. Unless it becomes uncomfortable, there is no need to be seen before your next scheduled appointment.

Lost Appliance or Retainer

Please call our office as soon as you can to schedule the necessary appointment for a replacement.