With holiday celebrations looming over the next couple of weeks, many patients in braces will face some difficult food choices at parties and family gatherings. Many once-a-year dishes will be served, creating temptation to eat things that are not on your orthodontist’s approved list of foods during your modern orthodontic treatment.
It also means that some of our patients might break a bracket when they go ahead and have it anyway.
First of all, please know we understand. Many of us had braces, too, and we didn’t always follow the instructions perfectly, either. While we don’t condone eating gooey, sticky, or hard foods while wearing braces, we also don’t condemn those who do it occasionally.
Second, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. While you are in braces for your modern orthodontic treatment, it is a good idea to have the following items on hand all the time to manage minor discomfort and damage to your appliance.
- Dental floss and Interproximal brushes: To remove food stuck in braces or in between teeth and gums
- Topical anesthetic (e.g., Orabase or Ora-Gel): To manage pain from irritated tissue
- Tweezers or nail clippers: For clipping and bending broken wires or getting brackets back into place
- Orthodontic wax: To relieve irritation by orthodontic appliances rubbing on your cheeks and lip
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., Tylenol and ibuprofen): To treat oral cavity pain
Next, if you do break a bracket or wire over the holidays, don’t worry (or panic). Having a minor problem like this probably won’t impact your overall treatment plan much. Call us and we will determine when you should come in to get the problem fixed. (However, if there is an injury or you are in pain, please contact us as soon as possible so we can treat your emergency.)While you wait, here is our advice for managing the situation until your appointment.
- Determine what happened. Pictures are helpful here. See my video if you want some tips for taking photos in the mouth.
- Respond with home remedies.
- If the bracket came off then, put it in a Ziplock bag and bring it in to the office. If the wire is still attached, then move the bracket into place and temporarily adhere it to the tooth with orthodontic wax.
- If the wire came out of the bracket, use a cotton swab or pencil eraser to put it back into place. Once you do that, if the wire protrudes, use orthodontic wax to manage the effect on your surrounding tissue until you can come in
- If the wire is broken, clip the end so it is even (and less likely to poke you) and gently bend it back toward the tooth. Another option is to use wax to protect the tissue from the sharp ends.
- Use a salt water rinse to prevent infection or inflammation. If there is a sore or irritation in the soft tissue of your mouth afterward, be sure to rinse with salt water (or an antiseptic mouth rinse) to prevent infection and temporarily relieve discomfort. You can also use a topical pain reliever to alleviate any discomfort.
- Keep up consistent home care. It’s always a good idea to keep up on your oral hygiene, but especially when you have injury or irritation in your mouth. It might be tempting to skip the recommended twice-daily brushing and daily flossing when a bracket or wire is broken, but don’t. Home care is essential to your oral health, so be gentle in the damaged area to prevent further breaks, but clean your teeth and gums every day.
- Be sure to call us to come in for a repair. Home remedies can alleviate discomfort until the repair can be made, but getting the situation fixed is essential to prevent delays in your treatment plan. In other words, don’t wait until your next appointment to tell us what happened.
- Take it easy on your teeth until the situation is resolved. It might be tempting to keep eating the wrong types of foods because “the damage is already done,” but this strategy will not lead to anything good. Stick to a soft diet and prevent further damage to your orthodontic appliance.
- If you experience infection or have a lot of pain, be sure to go for emergency care. We will see you as soon as possible or send you to an emergency care location.
Let’s face it, the holidays are tempting with their treats and candy, which are usually not on our list for approved food during orthodontic treatment with braces. We understand that during braces, you might not always make the best choices in what you choose to eat, and it might mean that you have a broken bracket or wire that we need to fix. Try these home remedies to manage the situation until we can see you and get your modern orthodontic treatment back on track.
From all of us at Bloom Orthodontics, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a spectacular and safe New Year!
“Broken Brackets Don’t Know It’s a Holiday Break.” www3.aaoinfo.org. Web. 18 December 2021. <https://www3.aaoinfo.org/blog/broken-brackets-dont-know-its-a-holiday-break/>.
“4 Things to Do When a Braces Bracket Breaks.” www.colgate.com . Web. 18 December 2021. <https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/adult-orthodontics/four-steps-to-fixing-a-broken-braces-bracket>.
“Broken Braces? What to do if a Bracket or Wire Breaks (Don’t Panic!) www.theorthodontists.com. Web. 18 December 2021. <https://www.theorthodontists.com.au/blog/broken-braces-what-to-do-if-a-bracket-or-wire-breaks-don-t-panic>.