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Common Complaints : When to Call Your Orthodontist

Group of teenagers, one girl wearing braces is smilingBraces are a wonderful modern convenience that can not only leave you with a beautiful smile, but fix a number of dental concerns.  However, while braces are built for a heavy duty job, there is always a chance that something will break or other problems will arise.  Some problems can be easily fixed at home, while others require a return trip to the orthodontist.  To help you discern which is which, here’s some of the most common complaints and their treatment.

Mouth Discomfort

It is very common for a patient to experience some discomfort in her mouth after a visit to the orthodontist – especially if it was a visit where the braces or retainers were adjusted. Over the counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) can help ease the pain.  We also encourage eating eat soft foods.  If the pain lasts more than 5 days, contact your orthodontist.

Mouth Sores and Mouth Irritation

The metal brackets and wires that are part of braces can cause sores to develop in the mouth and can irritate the lips and/or cheeks.  These sores and irritation can be treated with over-the-counter topical anesthetics, which are applied directly to the sores with a cotton swab.  You can also ask your orthodontist to a bit of orthodontic wax, which can be used as a buffer between the braces and the mouth.  Just flatten a small piece of wax on the offending part of the braces.

Lost Ligatures

The ligatures are the small rubber bands or fine wires that are used to secure the wire of the braces to the bracket.  If a rubber band ligature comes off, you can actually easily reattach it at home with a pair of tweezers. In the case of a metal ligature, it is best to use the tweezers to simply remove it.  Call your orthodontist to inform them of any ligatures that come off completely.

Poking Archwire

The archwire runs the length of your braces.  Sometimes, if the wire is left to long, it can cause an irritating, poking sensation in the back of the mouth.  In this case you can put wax over the end of the archwire to protect your mouth, but make sure you make an appointment with your orthodontist to have the wire clipped.

Loose Bands, Brackets, or Wires

If any of the bands, brackets, or wires on your braces are loose or break off completely, this is a time to call your orthodontist to have them fixed and/or reattached.  Save any pieces that come off and bring them with you to your appointment.

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