Braces Care / Emergencies



Having braces should not cause any major changes in your day-to-day activities. You can still dine out, sing, play a musical instrument, or have pictures taken. With proper care and maintenance, you can promote your oral health while on your way to a more beautiful smile.

If you play a wind instrument, several companies make mouth guards and lip protectors, although you may not need them.

For certain sports it is a good idea to wear a mouth guard. Ask us about recommendations based on your specific needs when you come in for your next appointment.

When making your dining choice, choose softer foods and avoid foods that are particularly hard, chewy, crunchy or sticky. Cut or tear pizza and sandwiches before eating them rather than trying to bite through them. Chopping up items like apples or carrots before eating them is a good idea. When your braces are adjusted, your teeth may be a little more sensitive, so choosing softer food like pasta, soups or a healthy smoothie can be a good choice. Please avoid chewing gum and chewing on ice.

Carefully follow all instructions you are given regarding your dental care. Specific steps may vary depending on the type of braces you have. Be sure to brush thoroughly after any meal or snack . It is important to keep your teeth and braces as clean as possible to avoid potential problems. Also, rinse with water or mouthwash after brushing. It’s a good idea to carry a travel toothbrush when you will be away from home. Before going to bed at night be sure to brush thoroughly and floss carefully. It may take a little extra time but this is an important step in maintaining your oral hygiene on your way to a better smile and healthier teeth.

Use a soft rounded-bristle toothbrush that is in good condition. Toothbrushes will wear out faster and need to be replaced more often when wearing braces, so be sure to keep some spare toothbrushes on hand. When brushing you should also brush your tongue and rinse thoroughly when done.

Flossing is an important part of good oral hygiene. With braces it may take a little more time and practice, and a floss threader may be necessary to get the floss under the archwire. Make sure you clean along and under the gum lines with floss each night before going to bed. After you have properly brushed and flossed, your braces should look clean and shiny, making it easy to see the edges of the braces.

If you have a removable orthodontic appliance, it is important to clean it each night and morning to remove dental plaque.  Remove the appliance and clean it with a toothbrush and toothpaste. 

Dental wax can be very helpful with any areas that are irritating your mouth or gums. This can be especially helpful at night when sleeping when your mouth may get drier than during the day time when you can regularly hydrate.

It is important to wear a mouth guard when playing sports to protect the mouth from injury.

Our office can make a custom mouth guard by taking an impression of your teeth and then creating a device fitted to your mouth for the highest level of both comfort and protection. (A custom fitted mouthguard can be particularly important for athletes who wear braces.)

Be sure to bring your mouthguard to your dental appointments so your doctor can be sure it still fits you well.

Keep these materials on hand to help with the most common orthodontic maintenance and minor emergencies:

Interdental or Proxabrushes fit between teeth and help patients to clean around wires without damaging them.

Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax can be placed over brackets or wires that may be irritating gum tissues.

Antibacterial Mouthwash can be used to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. For minor sores in the mouth, Peroxyl, an antiseptic rinse containing hydrogen peroxide may be used up to 4 times per day after brushing. Refer to the product label for specific instructions.

Dental floss, an interproximal brush or a toothpick can be used for removing food that gets caught between teeth or wires.

Sterile tweezers can be used to replace orthodontic rubber bands that have come off.

A Q-tip or pencil eraser can be used to push a wire up against a tooth if it has come loose and is irritating the cheeks or gums. If it is not possible to reposition the wire so it is more comfortable, place wax over the end of the wire and call our office so that we can set a time to have the wire adjusted and put back into place.

Salt is used for warm salt-water rinses, which help heal sore gums and tissues in the mouth.

Non-prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help with the temporary discomfort that sometimes occurs for the first day or two after an orthodontic adjustment.

Topical Anesthetic Treatments, such as Orabase or Ora-Gel, can be applied with with a Q-tip to any abrasions or sores in the mouth should they occur.

Orthodontic Emergencies


If you experience a breakage or loosening of any of your appliances please call our office as soon as possible. Please do not come directly to the office. By calling us first we will be able to schedule a time to see you. If you have a scheduled appointment already, please call to let us know that you need something repaired so that we may add additional time to your appointment if needed.

If you need assistance after hours, please call our office phone line and leave a message on our emergency service so that we may contact you. Please be sure to leave your name, phone number with area code, and a brief message.

Click on the topics below for solutions to some common non-emergency problems:


Non-prescription pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help with the temporary discomfort that sometimes occurs for the first day or two after an orthodontic adjustment.  A diet of soft foods for a day or two can also be helpful.

There are two types of ligatures that may be used to attach the arch wire to the brackets. They may be tiny rubber bands or small, thin wires.

If a rubber band ligature comes off, it may be possible to put it back in place using clean tweezers.

If a wire ligature comes off, it can be removed with clean tweezers. If it is poking the mouth but is not loose, it may be possible to bend it back down away from the tissues with a Q-tip or clean pencil eraser. Let our office know about the problem so that we can decide if we need to see you before your next scheduled appointment.

Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax can be placed over brackets or wires that may be irritating the mouth.
Dental floss, an interproximal brush, or a toothpick can be used for removing food that gets caught between teeth or wires. Sometimes tying a knot in the dental floss before threading it through the brackets can help to catch and remove the food.
If a wire is out of place and poking the cheek, lips, or gums, use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire against the tooth. If this is not possible, or if the wire is still uncomfortable, place wax over the end of the wire and call our office to set up a time to have the wire adjusted and put back into place. If this is not possible and the wax doesn’t help you and you are in a true bind, you should be able to easily clip the braces wire with a pair of finger nail cutters or scissors. Try to hold one end of the wire with a pair of tweezers when doing this, so you can throw away the clipped piece of wire and your child doesn’t swallow it.
Rinsing with warm salt-water several times a day can help to heal sores in the mouth. To lessen discomfort, topical anesthetic treatments, such as Orabase or Ora-Gel, can be applied with with a Q-tip to any abrasions or sores in the mouth.
For minor sores in the mouth, Peroxyl, an antiseptic rinse containing hydrogen peroxide, can be used to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Use Peroxyl up to 4 times per day after brushing. Refer to the product label for specific instructions.