Bay Area Orthodontics

Emergency Care

Have an orthodontic emergency? At Bay Area Orthodontics we see various dental situations that require our orthodontic care at our Sunnyvale orthodontic office. We provide adult braces, teen braces, and kid braces. If you're looking for an orthodontic consultation or a second opinion on whether you need braces we can help. We offer complementary orthodontic consultations without a referral.

Urgent Orthodontic Emergencies

Fortunately, urgent orthodontic emergencies are extremely rare, but sometimes they do happen. Urgent orthodontist visits are rare but when they do we’re here to help. True orthodontic emergencies may include:

Major trauma or injury to the face, mouth and/or teeth
Infection, swelling and/or bleeding of the gums, mouth, or face
Severe unmanageable pain in the mouth

If you find yourself or your child in any of the above situations, immediately seek care from your general dentist, contact urgent care, or head to the nearest emergency department. Once you have attended to the emergency situation, call us to set up a follow-up appointment so that we can evaluate your appliances and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Minor Orthodontic Emergencies

Thankfully, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are considered minor even though they may be uncomfortable. In these cases, you can temporarily resolve many of the problems at home while you wait for your next appointment, or call to schedule an appointment. Listed below are some possible orthodontic situations and how they may be resolved at home. 

Please note that the following orthodontic situations do not require calling our emergency line:
Loose/Broken Brackets, Bands, or Wiresh
Misplaced or Poking Archwire, Bracket, or Tie
General Tooth Pain or Loosening
Broken Retainer or Expander
Swallowing Braces or Appliances

Orthodontic Emergency

Contact Emergency Line For Any of the Following:
Major trauma or injury to the teeth, face, or mouth
Infection, swelling and/or bleeding of the gums, mouth, or face
Severe unmanageable pain in the mouth
Wire or appliance is engaged into the cheek or gums (not poking wire)

Non-Urgent Orthodontic Emergency

Contact Us During Regular for Any of the Following:
Poking Wire
Broken or loose bracket or band
Broken retainer or expander
Loose retainer or expander
Missing o-ring / color tie
General pain or discomfort after an appointment
Swallowing a bracket (Not usually an emergency. Go to ER if breathing issues)

Minor Orthodontic Emergencies Explained

Click the arrow button to expand on minor emergencies

Loose or broken brackets are not an urgent problem. If the broken piece has come off, put it in a small bag and bring it to your next appointment. If the bracket or band is still attached to the wire, leave it alone and let us know so that we can ensure there is enough time to repair them at your next appointment. If it is irritating or scraping the inside of your mouth, cover it with orthodontic wax and use a warm salt water rinse to soothe the irritation. Be sure to give us a call during normal business hours so we can determine what your next steps should be.

As your teeth start to move, and since the very first wires are very light and flexible, they may stick out and cause irritations. A shifted wire can be moved into a better position by gently using a pencil eraser or Q-tip after drying the area first with a cotton swab. If the wires are sticking out of the wire slots and causing discomfort, place them back with a pair of tweezers cleaned in rubbing alcohol. If there is no associated discomfort, you may just leave the wire as is, and we will fix it at the next appointment. If an elastic tie is missing, there is no need to call our office. If any wires or brackets are irritating your mouth, you can cover them with orthodontic wax for temporary relief or gently trim them using nail or wire clippers cleaned with rubbing alcohol.

When you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is common for your teeth to feel slightly loose and tender – this means they are moving! For minor soreness, use any over-the-counter pain reliever or warm salt water rinse. Mix one teaspoon of salt into an 8-oz glass of warm water and rinse for thirty seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief. For any ulcers that may develop, topical numbing solutions such as Ora-base, or a soothing mouth-rinse called Peroxyl may be helpful.

Retainers are not indestructible. It is possible for the metal or plastic parts of your retainer to bend or break. If this happens, stop wearing the retainer and let us know. If the retainer has broken, collect all the pieces in a plastic bag and bring them to your next appointment. Be sure to call and schedule as soon as possible so that you are not going without a retainer for an extended period of time, as your teeth can shift as soon as a few days to weeks.

In rare situations, swallowing braces or other appliances can occur. If it does occur, try to remain calm. Whatever has been swallowed will normally pass during regular bowel movements. However, if you experience difficulty breathing as a result, you should seek immediate medical attention.

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