Simple and Quick Fixes To Orthodontic Problems… AKA Orthodontic First Aid

Fortunately Orthodontic emergencies are uncommon and most can be handled at home. However, if you are experiencing a problem that you cannot take care of yourself, call our office. We can schedule a quick appointment to get you comfortable until your next regular scheduled appointment. Please call for an appointment time and do not walk in. In the video and the paragraphs below are some first aid tips to help you stay comfortable until your next scheduled regular appointment.

General Soreness For New Braces

It is common for you to feel a general soreness when you first get your braces on, start using elastics, and sometimes when you graduate to larger arch wires.  When this happens, stick to a soft diet, rinse with warm salt water, and take analgesics (ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen sodium) as needed. For “brand new” braces please refer to the Quick Start guide in your take home folder–it has some good tips to help you get comfortable with new braces quickly. Click here to see the Braces Quick Start Guide.

Poking Wire

A broken or poking wire can usually be bent in with a pencil eraser. Another solution is to carefully snip the end of the wire with a nail or cuticle trimmer-please be careful not to loosen the bracket. The offending part can then be covered with wax or sugarless carefree chewing gum if the wax is not available. There is wax in your start-up kit.

Loose Brackets

Should your bracket become loose but it is still attached to the wire, leave it in place and use wax to prevent irritation on the lips or cheeks. Please contact us as soon as possible so that we may schedule an extra appointment, if necessary. Remember to avoid hard, crunchy and sticky foods and habits like chewing ice that may cause breakage and therefore possibly delaying completion of treatment.

Wire is Out of the Bracket Slot or Tube or the O-Rings or Steel Tie Came Off

Use a disinfected (rubbing alcohol works well for disinfecting) tweezers or needle nosed pliers to put the wire back in place. Use a piece of floss to tie the wire back in place as a substitute for the missing colored o-ring. If that does not work, use a cuticle/nail trimmer to carefully clip the wire behind the last tooth to which the wire is securely fastened. We can repair it at your next scheduled appointment. Watch the video to see how to do this.

I Ran Out of or Lost My Elastics (rubber bands)

This is an easy fix. Call the office and find out when you can come by and get more. If you can’t come by, we can mail them to you.

Talking “Ortho” with the Team

Getting braces and aligning your teeth are a life changing experience. With that said, orthodontic work an have unexpected issues. We recommend watching this short video to understand the different parts of braces. This way, you can tell Dr. Kineret and his team what happened and how to fix it.

Lost or Broken Retainers, Aligners or Loose Bonded Retainers

For lost or broken retainers call and schedule to take impressions for new retainers before the teeth move out of alignment. Without retention they can move within a matter of days even if years have passed since your initial treatment. So don’t procrastinate-new retainers cost far less than re-treatment.

For loose bonded retainers call the office ASAP. Usually we can add adhesive if only 1 or 2 teeth are unattached and the wire is not broken. If more than 2 teeth are unattached or the wire is broken we will need to make a removable retainer to retain your teeth until a new bonded retainer can be made.

If you cannot get back to the office right away, you can make a snug fitting temporary retainer out of a boil, soak, and mold sports mouth guard. These are easy to find at sports equipment stores and pharmacies. Make sure to get the kind that fits upper and lower teeth to keep them from shifting until you get back to the office.

Puffy or Bleeding Gums

This can usually be addressed by stepping up your game on your brushing, flossing and water picking (hydro-floss). If your gums are sensitive-numb them for 2 minutes with Orabase or Orajel and then brush and floss. Also it is a good idea to massage and stimulate gums with a rubber tip. Rinsing with a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of salt mixed into a glass of warm water is also helpful. If you are diligent, the gums should stop bleeding and the swelling will resolve within a week or two.

Jaw Joint Discomfort or Popping

Soften your diet and take Ibuprofen for a week. Avoid chewing gum. Apply moist heat for 15 minutes at a time 4 to 6 x per day over the jaw joints. They are immediately in front of your ears. Use a nightguard to stop clenching, separate the teeth and give the joints a rest-see below. If the problem persists let the orthodontist know at your next appointment.

Cold Sores

Use Abreva ointment to alleviate symptoms and avoid spicy, acidic and salty foods. You can find Abreva at most pharmacies.


In our experience the best solution is wear an over the counter night guard made to fit over braces. You do not want to buy the boil and soak type of night guard that will interfere with tooth movement. The correct kind of guard can be found at most pharmacies like CVS, Right Aid, Walgreens, etc. Ask the pharmacist if you need help finding one. Take a look at this article about buying the correct night guard.

Choosing the Correct Sports Mouth Guards for Braces

In our experience the best orthodontic mouth guard is made by Shock Doc and is specifically designed to go over upper and lower braces-Do not get the boil and soak type and make sure to get a mouth guard that is specifically designed for braces. Also it should cover both upper and lower teeth. You can find them at most sports retail stores or online here!

A Quick Fix for Rough Edges on your Invisible Aligner or Retainer

Get an emery board-medium and fine grit and gently polish the area that feels rough. Watch the video above to see how to do this.

What if my Rubber Band Hook Comes Off my Archwire?

This is an easy fix-call the office for a 10 minute appointment to crimp a new hook onto the arch wire. If you cannot get in to see us, you can try temporarily using the hook on the tooth in front or back of the one with the missing hook to continue your elastics wear.