What Counts as an Oral Health Emergency?

Woman wearing gray tank top, yelling in frustration/pain

If you crack a tooth or your wisdom teeth hurt so much you can’t sleep, these are obviously medical emergencies, but what about a routine check up? Is that an okay reason to go out in public? Seeking medical attention is a valid reason for leaving your home under Virginia guidelines. It’s your health and you don’t want to ignore something that could severely impact you down the line. However, if you still aren’t sure, we’ve listed some likely oral health emergencies and how to handle them at home below.

How to Handle Orthodontic Pain at Home

No Pain or Other Pressing Issues

Do not make an appointment if you are not currently experiencing pain or other issues with your orthodontic appliances. If you have previously scheduled a routine check up and have not yet heard from our staff about rescheduling for a later date, please contact our office.

General Soreness

Your mouth may feel generally sore after getting your braces on or recently taking them off. Your teeth may also be tender to biting pressure. This type of general soreness can be remedied at home by rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater (1 tsp of salt per 8 ounces of water is a good ratio). If you are in need of other measures, Placing Orabase (available in most pharmacies) on the affected area may help as will aspirin or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain.

Moderate Discomfort/Trouble with Orthodontic Appliances 

Review your appliance instructions if you are experiencing localized discomfort. Most discomfort can come from improperly caring for your appliance. Below are some common orthodontic problems and their at-home fixes:

Loose Appliance

If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part of your appliance. If discomfort persists or extrusion worsens, call to schedule an appointment.

Loose Bracket

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it. If the wire comes out entirely, wrap the bracket with a tissue and schedule an appointment to have it re-attached. Make sure to not lose the bracket and to bring it with you to your appointment.

Loose Wire

Using tweezers, try to put your wire back into place. If doing this and using wax doesn’t help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. This can be remedied at your next appointment.

Poking Wire

Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it to alleviate the discomfort.

If you need assistance in identifying what is causing your discomfort, take pictures in a well-lit area of what is going on and text them to us so we can see what’s happening to better guide us on how to help you! 

Extreme Discomfort

If you are experiencing extreme discomfort or localized pain, call our Reston office number: (703) 773-1200. 

As you can see, a surprising number of common orthodontic issues can be taken care of from home. These remedies can alleviate your discomfort until you are able to safely come into the office. Though, once again, if you need immediate assistance, call our office so your orthodontist can discuss the best course of action for you.

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