At first, having orthodontic treatment may take a little getting used to. It isn't uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are first put on, or some minor aches as teeth begin moving into new positions. However, it's comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare.
In the event of an emergency, Dr. Gonzalez is on call for you 24 hours a day. Simply call our office at 210-344-9295, and you will receive instructions on how to contact Dr. Gonzalez. All emergencies are seen the same day.
If you think you may have an emergency, however, the first step is to determine the severity of the problem: Is it an urgent situation that requires immediate attention, or a minor problem that you can take care of yourself, temporarily, until you can come in to our office?
A Major Emergency
There are only a few true orthodontic (or dental) emergencies. They include:
- Trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth
- Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face
- Severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas
In any of these situations, you should seek help as soon as possible — go to an emergency room, if that's your best option. Generally, however, the place to start is with Dr. Gonzalez.
Some Minor Troubles
Fortunately, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are minor, but they may still cause discomfort or irritation. In general, it's best to try and soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call our office to schedule an appointment. By doing this, we can reserve the time necessary to best treat you. Here are a few of the more common orthodontic problems, along with some tips on what you can do to relieve them at home:
Loose or broken brackets, bands or wires
This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as is — but don't connect any elastics to it! You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it's irritating the inside of your mouth. If the piece has come off, save it if you can. In either case, call our office to let us know what happened, and we will schedule a visit. Be sure to bring any loose parts with you to the appointment!
Misplaced or poking archwire, bracket or tie
As the teeth start to move, the wire that connects them (archwire) may begin poking near the back of the mouth or irritating the cheeks. You can first try moving the wire into a better position with a pencil eraser or a Q-Tip. You can also use tweezers to gently move a misplaced wire or a tie that's causing problems. If you’re still being poked, give our office a call, and we can give suggestions on what to do next.
When wires or brackets cause irritation, covering the metal parts with wax will often help ease the discomfort. As with any of these types of problems, please call our office if you’re having any trouble, and we'll find the soonest time available to see you.
General tooth pain or loosening
It's normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment — that shows they're moving! However, sometimes this movement may be accompanied by tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water, and rinse for 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.
While actual emergencies are rare, our goal is to make orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible. If you need additional advice, don't hesitate to call us!