Orthodontic Emergencies, Pokey Wire, Wax Placement, Wire Cutting

Home » Orthodontic Emergencies, Pokey Wire, Wax Placement, Wire Cutting


Deciding to have orthodontic treatment in orthodontic emergencies can be a big decision. It will be a while before your mouth feels normal again and as you would expect, the more treatment you undergo the more painful it is likely to be. Having a large appliance fitted to your teeth is going to be stressful and you are going to have to learn to adapt. Eating will be different and quite difficult, and you could find that some people struggle to understand your speech for a while. Just as you feel that things have improved, and you are no longer in pain, the teeth will stat to move and bring a different type of pain. The good news is, that for many people, this is as bad as it gets.

There are always going to be problems, but the good news is that few people end up with real issues and with the right handling of orthodontic emergencies you will be fine. It is not unheard of for there to be dental emergencies, but they are few and far between, and when they do occur, plenty of healthcare specialists will be able to improve the situation. Once you become aware that there is something wrong, you need to think about and decide whether it is:

  • Nothing to worry about- you are just getting used to wearing braces.
  • A slight inconvenience – if it does not improve it will be worth returning to the orthodontist and finding out what has happened.
  • A real emergency – when this is decision made, then you should make an appointment right away and have the issue dealt with.

You need to be realistic as unlike with our general health; there are very few issues that can be classed as a genuine dental emergency. There are three, and they are:

  • Facial injury – this can be because of a fall or a sporting accident. Neither can be anticipated, so if either happens, you will have to go back to the orthodontist.
  • Swelling – once any initial swelling goes down, there should not be any more. If there is it is likely that an infection has set in and this is going to need treatment.
  • Pain – this does not just mean a slight twinge, but pain that is hard to deal with.


If any of the above occurs, then you should make an emergency appointment with your orthodontist as handling of orthodontic emergencies is their field.  If there is not the option of seeing them right away, then you should go to the emergency room instead. If you feel it is not a matter of life and death, then your regular dentist may be able to help as a first point of call. They could have the solution, or at least let you know if you do need a higher presence to look after you.


Your own dentist will be well trained and will also have access to antibiotics if they are what is needed. If the problem is that the tooth is cracked or broken, then this is something that they will have dealt with on a regular basis. They will be able to start off the treatment and set out appointments with your orthodontist to do the rest of the work later. Most orthodontists will be happy to reorganize the program they had set up for you if there is a good reason to do so.

Infection is going to be the same as a dentist will be able to treat it as again they are going to have seen thousands of cases of infection in the past. If they are a little unsure of what to do, the periodontist can be called in and they will sort it out.


It is likely that the use of the word emergency can be a bit misleading at times. When it comes to life and death then clearly certain paths need to be followed to make sure that the patient survives. There are however dental emergencies and here it will not be the patient that is at risk as such, more that the treatment planned may fail without proper intervention. There are conditions that will be considered minor in the grand scheme of things, so it is best to understand when not to get too concerned and assume it is an emergency when it is not.

Many minor problems however can still be painful and require treatment before the next planned appointment. If you do have any of the conditions below, schedule an appointment to get it treated. It will be issues such as:


  • Damaged braces – this is likely to need minor work and often caused due to what is eaten rather than a major problem. Ask for advice as to what to do until you can see the orthodontist, but unless there has been an injury caused, it can wait, and sharp ends can be dealt with via a bit of wax. If there are cuts caused, keep an eye on them to make sure that they do not get infected.
  • Problematic arch wire – again the main concern here is damage to the soft tissue. You may be able to set things back in position yourself, and tweezers tend to be best when trying this. Again, ask for advice before starting any treatment yourself.
  • Loose teeth – part of the process means that the teeth are going to get a little loose and move, but if they are very loose and there is pain or tenderness in the area, you may need to ask. Over the counter medication will be fine for the pain, and you will benefit from a salt water rinse a couple of times a day. Heat will help, so a heating pad can be placed on the face near to the site of the pain.


As you should now be able to see, there are not many real emergencies, but you do need to act when there is one. The handling of orthodontic emergencies should always be swift and effective.

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