Emergencies have a knack for occurring unexpectedly—as well as when it’s least convenient! And orthodontic emergencies are no exception. Whether it’s a broken wire or bracket, lost retainer, or some other type of problem, these situations can quickly become stressful and panic inducing. So why not try to avoid them in the first place? Fortunately, there are several preventive measures you can take to safeguard yourself from orthodontic emergencies! Here are four tips to help you out.
Tip #1: Watch What You Eat
You should avoid any and all foods that could potentially damage your orthodontia. Most patients wear traditional braces for roughly 1 – 2 years, and clear aligners like Invisalign often take several months to transform your smile. During this timeframe, it’s best to avoid all sticky, chewy, crunchy, and particularly hard or brittle foods. It might seem difficult to give up some of your favorites like popcorn, bubblegum, candy apples, and more, but the damage that these items can cause to your braces or aligners is potentially catastrophic.
Tip #2: Practice Sports Safety
Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw aren’t uncommon—but this doesn’t mean that sports and outdoor activities are off-limits if you have braces! It simply means that you should be taking extra precautions when participating in them. One way to do this is by wearing a mouthguard. Mouthguards offer an immense amount of protection; they work by redistributing the force of impact across your whole mouth, instead of just the point of contact. This is a great way to protect your teeth and your orthodontia while playing sports or games!
Tip #3: Manage Your Discomfort
It’s normal to experience some discomfort throughout your orthodontic treatment process; after all, your teeth are literally being pushed and pulled across your mouth! You might also experience poking and prodding wires and brackets. But any pain you’re feeling shouldn’t be debilitating, and it can often be managed by gargling warm saltwater or taking over-the-counter pain relievers. You can also apply a small amount of dental wax to any pesky wire ends that are bothering you. But if you’re experiencing persistent or throbbing pain, it might be indicative of an underlying problem that could potentially escalate into an orthodontic emergency!
Tip #4: Keep Your Mouth Clean
This is the absolute best way to prevent any type of emergency problem from occurring inside of your mouth, hands down. Practicing good oral hygiene is essential 24/7, but even more so if you have orthodontics! It’s very easy for food particles and bacteria to become trapped inside of your mouth if you have braces or aligners. This greatly heightens your risk of tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and all kinds of other nasty problems that have the potential to turn serious.
Even though it’s impossible to prevent orthodontic emergencies entirely, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Following these tips and taking good care of your mouth will ensure that your orthodontics are able to do their job and work wonders for your smile.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Drabik has proudly served patients and families in the Webster, NY area for well over two decades! Dr. Drabik received his dental doctorate from the SUNY at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and is an active member of several professional organizations including the American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association. If you or a loved one is suffering from an orthodontic emergency, don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a visit: (585) 872-4660.