What Is An Orthodontic Emergency?

Wearing orthodontic appliances may present certain challenges and risks, but you can trust that our team at Kottemann Orthodontics is fully equipped to address them alongside you. Today, we’re going to explain an important question: What is an orthodontic emergency?

The Parts of Braces

To understand how braces can be damaged, it’s important to understand their components, which work in harmony to align teeth.

  • Brackets: These are small, square-shaped attachments affixed to the front of the teeth during the application of braces. They are secured with a robust adhesive but can be dislodged with sufficient force.
  • Wires: Connecting the brackets, wires apply controlled pressure to the teeth over time. Regular adjustments are made to ensure proper alignment.
  • Bands: These elastic bands can enhance pressure on specific teeth and are available in various colors. Larger bands may be utilized for adjustments to the jaw.

Potential Emergencies

An orthodontic emergency pertains to a scenario in which there’s an issue or complication linked to orthodontic treatment necessitating immediate attention from one of our doctors. These emergencies can arise with braces, aligners, or other advanced appliances, as well as from dental conditions like toothaches or injuries. Here are a few examples:

  • Broken or Loose Brackets: When a bracket becomes detached, it can lead to discomfort and disrupt the effectiveness of treatment. Seeking prompt attention is crucial.use discomfort and disrupt other parts. You should always get prompt attention
  • Poking or Irritating Wires: Wires that protrude or poke into the soft tissues of the mouth can cause pain, irritation, or injury. These should be addressed promptly to prevent further discomfort.
  • Loose or Lost Bands: If bands become loose or fall off, they may need to be reattached or replaced to maintain the progress of treatment.
  • Severe Pain or Discomfort: Persistent or severe pain, such as jaw pain or toothaches, may signal underlying issues that require immediate evaluation and treatment.
  • Traumatic Injuries: Injuries to the mouth or face, such as a knocked-out tooth or jaw injury, necessitate immediate attention to prevent further damage and preserve dental health.
  • Swelling or Infection: Signs of swelling, redness, or infection around the gums or teeth indicate potential dental problems that require urgent evaluation and treatment to prevent complications.

What Is An Orthodontic Emergency?

Getting Help

When faced with an orthodontic emergency, it’s crucial not to ignore or delay treatment. However, if the situation is life-threatening or extremely severe, it’s essential to call 911 or visit an emergency room immediately. For emergencies that are not life-threatening, here are some steps to take:

  • Identify: Take a moment to assess the nature of the dental or orthodontic problem you’re experiencing. This could involve examining your appliance for damage or noting any symptoms such as swelling or infection.
  • Assess: Determine how severe the issue is. Emergencies that involve severe bleeding, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness require immediate attention from the emergency department.
  • Contact Us: If the emergency is non-life-threatening, get in touch with our office as soon as possible. Explain your situation to us, and we’ll provide initial instructions on how to manage the issue. This may involve avoiding certain foods, taking over-the-counter pain relief medication, or applying cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  • Temporary Relief: While waiting for professional care, take interim measures to alleviate discomfort. For example, if you’re dealing with a poking wire causing irritation, apply orthodontic wax to the affected area or gently push the wire into a more comfortable position using a clean pencil eraser.
  • Prevention: Take proactive steps to minimize the risk of future emergencies. Practice good oral hygiene, follow our guidance for caring for and maintaining your orthodontic device, and consider wearing protective mouthguards during sports or other activities.


Here are some additional answers to common questions that may help alleviate concerns during an orthodontic emergency:

Q: What if I’m unable to reach my orthodontist during an emergency?

A: If the emergency occurs outside of our regular office hours and you’re unable to reach us, consider locating a nearby emergency dental service or urgent care facility. They can provide immediate evaluation and treatment options. When explaining your situation, be sure to provide thorough details about your orthodontic treatment.

Q: What if it’s a dental emergency?
A: For dental emergencies such as lost or chipped teeth, it’s essential to prioritize contacting your regular dentist. If you’re unable to reach them or if the issue is related specifically to your orthodontic treatment, feel free to contact us for further assistance.

Q: Will my insurance cover an emergency?
A: Coverage for orthodontic emergencies can vary depending on your insurance carrier and specific policy. To obtain accurate information about your coverage, it’s best to contact your insurance provider directly. They can inform you about any associated costs, reimbursement procedures, and coverage details related to orthodontic emergencies.


Solutions You Can Trust

In the face of an orthodontic emergency, we’ll always make every effort to accommodate you for an emergency appointment. Don’t wait until your next scheduled visit—and even if it’s a day or two away, still give us a courtesy call to make us aware of the situation. We are here for you! You can reach our Chaska, Maple Grove, Orono, or Plymouth offices at (763) 363-5235. We also offer virtual appointments.