Summer is quickly approaching, which means vacations, summer camps, water slides and tons of warm-weather fun for our Papillion braces and Invisalign patients. However, for some people, especially new braces-wearers, the idea of being out and about or away from home (and Dr. Hawley) leaves them worried about dealing with a braces emergency. First, we have to say, a true braces emergency is extremely, extremely rare.
But there are some common braces problems that can occur. Thankfully, these issues are usually minor and you can often handle them on your own until you can get in for an appointment. So, whether you’re having a blast at one of the many Omaha summer events or you’re on vacation in a distant land, Hawley Orthodontics has you covered. Here are our tips to handle common braces issues when you can’t visit an orthodontist right away.
Be Prepared: Make a Braces Emergency Kit
The real key to handling orthodontic emergencies is being prepared. Hey, Dr. Hawley’s an Eagle Scout, so being prepared is second nature for him. If you have the right supplies nearby, there aren’t too many braces issues you can’t conquer. Put together a small kit with the necessary items and be sure to bring it with you when you’re out for the day or traveling. Here’s what we suggest including:
- Advil (it comes in travel-sized containers)
- Travel toothbrush
- Orthodontic wax
- Travel interproximal brush
- Cotton swabs
- Invisalign case (for Invisalign patients)
- Compact mirror
If you’ll be going on vacation or somewhere overnight, you’ll also want to include:
- Clean nail clippers
- Alcohol wipes
- Your previous set of Invisalign aligners and your next tray (if you’re on vacation)
Common Scenarios and How to Deal With Them
With your braces travel kit on-hand, handling an orthodontic emergency or, more accurately, orthodontic mishap, will be a breeze. Let’s walk through some scenarios involving braces problems and our suggested solutions.
1. You’re eating a caramel apple at the Papillion Days Carnival and one of your braces brackets comes loose.
Well, to avoid the situation altogether, don’t eat hard foods you need to bite into like whole, raw apples or carrots and stay away from hard, sticky and chewy foods, such as caramel, taffy and nuts.
If a bracket does break or come loose and it’s in the front of your mouth, dry it off with a tissue. Then, roll a little piece of orthodontic wax into a ball between your fingers to warm it up and place it over the bracket to temporarily hold it in place and stop any irritation.
If the bracket is at the back of your mouth, wash your hands and then carefully slide it off the end of the wire. If a long piece of wire is left over and bothering you, use nail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol to gently clip the excess and cover the rest with wax. Be sure to call our office at (402) 592-3200 to let us know and we’ll get you in for a repair appointment if necessary.
2. You’re going in for a layup during a pick-up basketball game at Halleck Park in Papillion and your opponent’s elbow hits you in the mouth.
If you were wearing the mouthguard we gave when you got your braces put on, you should be okay. Step off the court and check your mouth and braces for any damage. If you weren’t wearing a mouthguard and you’re bleeding, take a seat and use your tissues to clean yourself up.
If the bleeding won’t stop, you may need to head to the emergency room. If a tooth is loose, chipped, twisted or comes out completely, seek dental care immediately. A tooth can often be saved if a dentist re-implants it shortly after the injury. In either scenario, contact our office after you handle the immediate situation if your braces need to be fixed.
3. You’re on a family vacation visiting relatives in Oregon and your braces wire is poking your cheek.
Break out your trusty braces emergency kit. Use cotton swabs to push the piece of wire out of the way and cover it with dental wax to act as a barrier between your cheek and the wire. If it’s a really long piece, use your sterilized nail clippers to carefully cut the excess and cover the remaining bit with wax. Give us a call to schedule a visit for when you’re home from your trip.
4. You’re watching a movie under the stars during the free Starlight Movies series at the SumTur Amphitheater.
However, after a stop at the concession stand, you have a big piece of soft pretzel stuck in your braces. Okay, so this one definitely isn’t an emergency with braces but it can be embarrassing. Look in your mirror and use your interproximal brush to poke the piece of food loose. It wouldn’t hurt to swish with some water and spit it out (discreetly!) or run to the bathroom and brush with your travel toothbrush.
5. You’re at the Gretna Days Community Picnic and you put your Invisalign aligners in a napkin while eating lunch and accidentally throw them away.
If you’re one of our Papillion Invisalign Teen patients, there are a few free replacement aligners included in the system, so you shouldn’t get in too much trouble with your parents. But, next time, store your aligners in their case when they’re not in your mouth. Call Hawley Orthodontics, whether you’re a teen or an adult, so we can give you replacement aligners.
If this happens when you’re away, don’t just skip ahead to your next pair because each set of aligners is programmed to move specific teeth at certain times. When you call, we’ll let you know if you should move ahead or hold off. It will depend on where you are in the wearing cycle. If you need to hold off and get replacements for your current aligners, your best bet is to temporarily wear your previous aligners to hold the teeth in position. That’s why you should always keep them around.
6. You’re at the overnight portion of Adventure Camp in Fontenelle Forest a day after getting your braces adjusted.
Your teeth are feeling sensitive. This can happen after adjustments and when you first get your braces put on. If it’s possible, try to stick with soft foods and cold drinks. Take Advil, or another over-the-counter pain reliever, if you need to. You can also mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water. Gargle with the saltwater mixture and then spit it out.
7. You’re taking in the sights and sounds at the Omaha Summer Arts Festival and your braces are irritating the inside of your lips and cheeks.
Use your orthodontic wax to cover the areas of your braces that are irritating you. When you get home, make a saltwater rinse and swish with it to soothe your mouth.
8. You’re browsing the fresh fruits and veggies at the Papillion Farmer’s Market and you lose a separator.
It happens and there isn’t much you can do about it, so continue on with your produce shopping. Call us and we’ll let you know if it needs to be replaced or not.
Today’s braces are a lot more comfortable and, as we noted, it’s very unlikely you’ll experience a true braces emergency. If you do have any discomfort or issues, call our office at (402) 592-3200 and we’ll get you in for an appointment right away to remedy the situation. If you’re traveling and unsure of something, you can still call us for guidance and a Hawley Orthodontics team member will walk you through it. If you’re not in orthodontic treatment yet, why not make this the summer you take a step towards achieving your dream smile?