Help! I Broke a Wire – What Do I Do?

Posted | Blog, Braces

With traditional metal braces, wires connect all of the brackets and are the driving force in straightening your teeth. These wires are pretty tough, but some patients may occasionally experience issues with their wires or other parts of their orthodontic appliance. If you’re afraid that you’ve broken a wire in your braces, don’t worry. Tisseront Orthodontics is here to help with your broken wire.

Teen girl in striped shirt with metal braces looks scared

What Do You Do If You Break a Wire?

First, don’t panic. A broken or poking wire is often not as serious as it sounds. Depending on how and where your broken or poking wire is located on your appliance, you can adjust your broken wire at home. Many minor wire issues can be adjusted so you are comfortable until you are able to make an appointment with your orthodontist. In some cases, you may even be able to wait until your next scheduled appointment and not have to make one to specifically address the problem. This will be determined by your orthodontist when you call.

As such, the first step is to call your orthodontist. They will be able to prescribe your next steps depending on the severity of the wire issue. The orthodontist will likely prescribe one or more of the following solutions:

If your wire is broken and poking outward, apply a layer of orthodontic wax given to you by your orthodontist. This will smooth over the sharp end of the wire and protect your cheek and gums from injury until you can make it back to the orthodontist’s office. Applying wax can also help with wire that has not broken, but comes loose from the bracket.

If the wire is protruding in such a way that wax is not an effective solution, you may attempt to bend the wire so that it is laying flat again with a cleaned pencil eraser. The rubber end of the pencil will protect your fingers and mouth from injury, allowing you to position the wire where wax may be more useful.

We generally suggest to avoid trimming the wire, but in some cases it may be necessary, especially if you are unable to come to the office, such as over the holidays. Using a sharp pair of nail clippers, trim the wire, careful to avoid trimming another part of your appliance or nicking your mouth. It is also important to not inhale or swallow the wire. We recommend performing this procedure over a napkin, in such a way that the wire end will fall out of your mouth rather than in it.

In the event a wire comes loose and causes injury to your cheeks and/or gums, try a topical pain-reliever approved for oral use, such as Anbesol, to reduce discomfort. Rinse your mouth with half a teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces of warm water to keep the area clean and relieve any soreness.

How Do Wire Braces Break?

Perhaps the number one way trouble with a wire or bracket might arise is through eating something you shouldn’t. When you first got your appliance, your orthodontist gave you a list of foods to avoid. The reason that list is so important is to protect your appliance from issues such as a broken wire. Hard or crunchy foods such as chips cause damage through your bite force. Sticky candy or foods you have to tear at could also cause breaks due to the force.

A second way for orthodontic appliances to break is through knocks to the mouth. Whether from rough play or competitive sports, hits to the mouth and jaw can have serious implications for your oral health. If this is the cause of any issues with your appliance, then see your orthodontist immediately, as there could be more damage than a poking wire. We always advise our patients to wear correctly fitting mouthguards when playing sports.

Alternatives to Wire Braces

If you’re concerned your lifestyle may put you in danger of breaking a wire, don’t worry. There are a variety of orthodontic appliances to fit your needs beyond traditional metal braces. For example, Invisalign is a wireless alternative for those concerned about the look or feel of traditional metal braces. They can easily be removed and so don’t pose the same issues when it comes to food or sports (though we still recommend mouth guards).

As we said, a broken wire is not as serious as it may sound. However, as we’ve also explained, it can be a serious problem depending on the cause of offending wire. Mostly, we want you to not worry too much about it. It’s always best to call your orthodontist and they will tell you what your next steps are going to be.

Real Patients. Real Smiles. Explore the Gallery