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Braces emergencies are super rare. But, occasionally, you can have a minor problem. Here’s what to do about it.

Orthodontics San Diego

Troubleshooting your braces

There are very few braces issues that are true emergencies. If you do have a problem that can’t wait or you’re experiencing severe pain, please call or text our office at (619) 291-5266. We’ll get you in for an urgent appointment. Most problems, however, can be managed at home until you’re able to see Dr. Durschlag.

General Discomfort

Our modern braces make treatment much more comfortable. But, when you first get your braces put on, your teeth might feel a little bit sensitive. Discomfort is usually mild and only lasts a few days. If you need to, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever (whatever you’d normally take for a headache). Eating a soft foods diet for two or three days will be helpful too.

Loose or Broken Braces Bracket

For a loose bracket, use sterile tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth. Then, rotate the bracket back to the proper position, and slide it to the center of the tooth. You can place a piece of relief wax over the bracket if it’s moving around or causing irritation.

If a bracket in the back of the mouth breaks, carefully slide it off the wire. To reduce the possibility of accidentally swallowing it, cover it with a piece of sterile gauze or a clean tissue as you remove it from your mouth. You’ll probably be left with a long piece of wire. Follow our instructions in the “poking wire” section to remedy this.

Poking Steel Tie

If the wire ligature is sticking out into your lip but is not loose, it may be bent back down with a Q-tip or new pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation. A small amount of relief wax makes a great buffer too.


It can take a week or two for your mouth to “toughen up” and get used to your braces. If your appliance is irritating your lips, cheeks or tongue, break off a small amount of orthodontic relief wax, roll it between your fingers into a ball about the size of a pea, flatten it and place it on the part of your braces that’s bothering you. You can also swish with a saltwater rinse (½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water) as often as needed.

Poking Wire

Occasionally, an end bracket can break or a wire can work its way out of your bracket and irritate your mouth. Try using a clean Q-tip or the eraser end of a new pencil to gently push the wire down and against the nearest tooth.

If you can’t move the wire into a comfortable position, break off a small piece of relief wax, roll it into a ball the size of a pea, flatten it and stick it on the wire to act as a buffer between metal and mouth.

In a situation where the wire is extremely bothersome and you’re not able to visit San Diego Smile Pros any time soon, you may, as a last resort, clip the wire. To reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece, again, use folded tissue or gauze around the area. Then, with a new or sterilized pair of sharp nail clippers, carefully snip off the excess wire. You can cover the rough end in relief wax.

Ligature Came Off

If an elastic or metal tie comes off, cover the bracket with a small piece of relief wax. This will prevent any irritation.

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