Orthodontic Emergencies

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Our skilled orthodontist and team provide emergency orthodontic care in Santa Monica, California. If you have an orthodontic emergency, please contact Santa Monica Orthodontics at 310-393-3344. Our team will provide you with instructions on what to do and make arrangements for you to come in so that Dr. Rehana Khan can resolve the problem. Below are a few solutions and tips for handling orthodontic emergencies.

Food Caught Between the Teeth
While having food caught between your teeth is not an emergency, it can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, this problem is easily fixed by flossing. We recommend using an interproximal brush, toothpick or flossing thread to help reach the food and floss between the braces.

Ligatures That Have Come Off
Ligatures (tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires) are used to hold the wire to the bracket of your braces. If this band comes off, you may be able to put it back in place using sterile tweezers. If one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow, and we recommend that you let our orthodontist know so that we can check the ligatures. If a ligature is lost, please call our office so that we can determine if you need to come in for an emergency appointment.

Some discomfort is normal for a day or so after you begin wearing braces and after any adjustments. You may use mild pain relievers or rinse with warm salt water to relieve discomfort and may want to eat soft foods until the discomfort wears off. If you experience severe or persistent pain, it could be a sign that something is wrong, and we recommend that you contact our office.

Mouth Sores
Some patients are susceptible to developing mouth sores. These sores are not caused by braces but may be exacerbated by irritation from the braces. These mouth sores can be very uncomfortable. You can relieve discomfort by applying small amounts of topical anesthetic directly to the sores using a cotton swab. Reapply the anesthetic as needed.

Irritation of the Lips or Cheeks
Braces may irritate your lips or cheeks when you begin wearing them, especially when eating. You can relieve this discomfort with a small amount of dental wax. Simply pinch off a small piece of wax and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Then flatten the ball and use it to completely cover the braces that are causing the irritation. The wax is harmless and will not cause problems if swallowed.

Protruding Wire
If the end of a wire works itself out of place, you can use a cotton swab or a pencil eraser to push the wire so that it lays flat against the tooth. You may also use dental wax to cover the end of the wire and prevent it from causing discomfort. Contact our office so that our orthodontist can clip the wire or make other adjustments.

Loose Brackets, Wire or Bands
If your braces are loose in any way, contact our office as soon as possible. Brackets (the parts of the braces bonded to the tooth surface) are positioned in the center of the tooth. If the bracket is loose or off-center, the bonding adhesive may have failed. Our orthodontist will be able to re-bond the bracket to the tooth. You can perform a temporary fix on the bracket at home by using sterile tweezers to gently slide the bracket along the wire and back into place. If the bracket has rotated, you may need to move it between the teeth in order to rotate it back into the proper position before sliding it back to the center of the tooth.

You Have Swallowed a Piece of an Appliance
This type of orthodontic emergency is rare but can be alarming if it does occur. If this happens, remain calm. If you are coughing or having difficulty breathing, the piece may have been aspirated (breathed in).

If you can see the piece, you may attempt to remove it carefully. Do NOT attempt to remove the piece of an appliance if it could cause harm.

If you cannot see the piece or it may have been aspirated, call our office immediately.

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1458 14th St., Ste. 100, Santa Monica, CA 90404


Monday9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.