Skip to content
orthodontic emergency care in San Diego

Orthodontic Emergency Care

Brush n Brace offers orthodontic emergency care for children & teens in San Diego. When calling after hours for help, leave a message regarding your issue on the voicemail of our Scripps Ranch office. A team member will return your call as soon as we return to the office.

In the case of an emergency that cannot be corrected at home with the use of the following information and if your child or teen is experiencing severe pain, swelling and bleeding, there is always an on-call person. You can also submit pictures and request a virtual consultation during after hours.

Use this diagram to tell us what is loose and/or broken with your braces

Knowing the names of different parts of braces can be helpful during orthodontic treatment and can help your orthodontist determine the extent of your emergency.

If something is loose or broken, please call during office hours. It’s best not to wait until your next appointment. Place any piece that comes off in an envelope or ziplock bag and bring it with you.

In the unlikely case of discomfort that you cannot manage, we are available when you need us!

diagram of braces to help with your orthodontic emergency

Here is a list of some common ortho emergencies, with instructions to help alleviate any pain or discomfort until we can see your child/teen.

What to do in case your appliance feels loose or broken

An appliance is the general term for orthodontic devices such as an expander, space maintainer, or retainer. If your child or teen has any appliance and excessive force (like sticky or hard foods) bend, distort, or dislodge their appliance, we would like to know. Though this is not an emergency, please call our office and we will help you.

If your child is uncomfortable, try and slide the appliance into its original position. If unable to do so, just keep the device from getting damaged or lost and we will typically get your child or teen in at our next available appointment. 

Click here for instructions on how to turn your expander. There are also great tips on how to clean and take care of your appliance.

Loose brackets or bands

The bracket is the metal square that is glued to the center of each of your child’s teeth. A band is the ring that may have been placed on some back teeth. Both could be challenged and their glue undone. Use your finger to hold and gently move the band/bracket into the proper place.

If irritation occurs because of a loose bracket or band, apply wax to reduce discomfort, keep on a soft diet and use Tylenol as needed. The bracket or band may need to be refitted during the next available appointment. Sometimes, you can remove a terminal loose band or bracket easily and save it until we can see you in our office. Please remember to call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.

Click on this link for a diagram to explain the different parts of your braces.

find out how to fix a loose bracket
Loose bracket
Loose band

Wire irritations or pokey wire

Do you have a loose or poky wire? If you are experiencing discomfort caused by a wire on your braces. Move the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, cover the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a ball of wax. In order for the wax to stick to the wire, the area must be dry and the wax needs to be warmed by finger manipulation and molded around the pokey wire.

You can buy orthodontic wax at your local pharmacy or even on Amazon.

If the wire is still painful, try to cut it with nail clippers that have been washed and cleaned in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office to schedule for our next available appointment.

learn how to fix a poky wire on your braces
Poky wire
You can ease the pain from a loose wire
Loose wire
place wax if you have a poky wire
wax on poky wire

Lost separators

It is common for separators to be lost or to become dislodged, that shows that it is serving its purpose. The placement of a separator is to encourage the movement of teeth. If a separator has fallen out more than two days before your next scheduled appointment, call our orthodontic office in San Diego to schedule a sooner appointment so it can be replaced.

do you have a lost separator?
what to do if a separator has fallen off

Discomfort or pain with orthodontic treatment

You will likely feel some discomfort, like soreness, during the first week after your braces are in place and after routine adjustments. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers (if you’re not allergic to it) while you adjust to your new braces. Also, a warm washcloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.

Click here for instructions on how to brush and floss with braces.

inflamed gums due to braces
poky metal ties causing pain

In conclusion here is a summary of what to do if you need orthodontic emergency care:

  1. Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen one of your appliances.
  2. Discomfort with orthodontic treatment: The first week after your braces are in place you will likely feel some pain, soreness, or discomfort. You can take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers (if not allergic).
  3. Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. You can also place wax until you can get an appointment at your ortho office.
  4. When most patients lose a separator it is due to the wanted movement of teeth. Do not worry about losing a separator.
  5. Please alert our office if a bracket or band is loosened. The bracket or band may need to be re-fitted or replaced. Click on this link for a diagram of the names of different parts of braces.
  6. If it is after hours, you can send us a picture of the issue, click here for instructions. One of our team members will contact you as soon as the office is open.
  7. Continue to have good oral hygiene, click here for instructions on how to keep your beautiful smile healthy while in braces.