You are probably wondering how to take care of your braces during this pandemic. Your orthodontic office is most likely closed due to shelter in place order. You are worried about your regular adjustment appointments or maybe you were scheduled to take your braces off and now the appointment is canceled. Do not worry. You are not alone and we are here to take care of you. Please take a second and review these tips and follow these instructions between now and your next visit:
#1 Clean your teeth multiple times a day
As you know food can easily get stuck in braces. That means extra attention must be paid to oral hygiene especially when your next appointment is postponed. Use a soft tooth brush and start brushing on the upper right. Brush above and below the braces using a small circular motion. Slowly work your brush toward the front teeth and over to the left side. Then brush inside and biting surfaces. Do not forget to brush your gums. Use your floss threader or super floss to floss your teeth once a day. A water-flosser is great but does not replace flossing. Use a fluoride mouth wash on a daily basis as well. Do not forget to rinse your mouth with water after drinking a sugary or acidic beverage.
#2 Avoid problematic foods and drinks
Due to the potential uncertainty of when you will be able to visit your orthodontist, it is especially important to handle your appliances with care. Avoid hard, sticky foods that could potentially break brackets. Skip or limit sugary beverages like sports drinks and soda. Water is best!
#3 Wear your elastics or retainers as prescribed
Keep your orthodontic treatment on track by following our recommendations. Running low on rubber bands? Don’t worry. Call us to come up with a plan to get your hands on more.
#4 Review our instructions on how to handle orthodontic emergencies at home. (see below)
#5 Call us if you have any questions
These are just a few steps you can take to help keep things on track with your orthodontic treatment. A little extra effort on your end now will pay off big time when you get back into your orthodontic routine.
– Your Orthodontic Team
Handling orthodontic emergencies at home
Food Caught Between Teeth
This is not an emergency, but can be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing. It is easily fixed with a piece of dental floss. Try tying a small knot in the middle of the floss to help remove the food. Or use an interproximal brush or toothpick to dislodge food caught between teeth and braces. Water-Flosser could help as well.
Lost Wire or Ligature
Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. Contact your orthodontist to see if you should be seen at the office or you can wait until your next appointment. Most likely this is not an emergency and you can wait until your next appointment.
Ligatures Come Off
If a rubber ligature should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with sterile tweezers. If the wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a Q-tip or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation.
Some people are susceptible to episodes of mouth sores. While braces do not cause them, they may be precipitated or exacerbated by an irritation from braces. One or several areas of ulceration of the cheeks, lips or tongue may appear. This is not an emergency, but may be very uncomfortable for the patient. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. reapply as needed.
Irritation in Mouth
Sometimes braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between metal and mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. If the wax is accidentally ingested it’s not a problem. The wax is harmless.
Occasionally the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate the mouth. Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. (See above for instructions on applying relief wax).
In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome and you will not be able to see the orthodontist anytime soon, as a last resort, you may clip the wire.
Reduce the possibility of the swallowing the snipped piece of wire by using folded tissue or gauze around the area. Use a pair of sharp clippers and snip off the protruding wire. Relief wax may still be necessary to provide comfort to the irritated area.
A Bracket is Knocked Off
Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They are generally positioned in the center of each tooth. The bracket can be knocked off due to hard or crunchy foods orthodontic patients are instructed to avoid, or if the mouth is struck while at play. (We encourage all you to wear a protective mouth guard while playing sports.
If the loose bracket is not irritating you, you can leave it as is until your next appointment but If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and is irritating your mouth, you can do a temporary fix to alleviate discomfort and prevent further damage. But take care to prevent swallowing or other injury. To put the bracket back in place, use sterile tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth. Rotate the bracket back to the proper position, then slide it back to the center of the tooth.