dr. Jernigan
  • 306 Channel Drive
  • Columbia, SC 29229
  • Ph. 803.736.0065
  • YOUR
Jernigan Orthodontics logo

Orthodontic Emergencies

Emergencies with braces

Fortunately, there are very few true orthodontic emergencies. If during office hours, you feel like you are experiencing pain, lost or broken appliances, or have a concern please give us a call. We kindly ask that you do not delay calling our office later in the week if there is an issue. Please call at once so that we may take care of you while we are still open and can be more flexible in the appointment times we can offer. We also ask that you call ahead rather than coming in without an appointment as we may not be able to accommodate you immediately and that could result in an unnecessary wait.

After hours please refer to the listed items about dealing with day to day orthodontic issues. Please note that lost retainers, lost separators, loose braces/broken brackets, broken power chains or mild pokey wires are not considered an "emergency" and we do not routinely come into the office when closed to handle them. These are handled when the office re-opens on the next business day.

Occasionally, there are issues that require after hours attention and they may include: severely poking wires causing acute pain that wax or nail clippers cannot help, loose appliances where there is a swallowing concern, or a traumatic injury to the face that has impacted the appliances, the teeth or the cheek tissues. If one of these is occurring or there is an orthodontic problem causing acute pain or distress contact our office and the on-call number is on our voicemail.

Typical Emergencies and how to solve them:

Loose or Poking Archwires

If a wire causes irritation, push the wire away from the area using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-tip. If the wire cannot be tucked away, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax or a cotton ball until you can see us for an adjustment.

If the main wire has come out of the tube on the back tooth, attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers. If the wire is sticking you, place a piece of wax over the area. As a last resort, if you cannot come into our office, the wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or fingernail clipper close to the back of the last brace.

Loose Brackets or Bands

If a bracket becomes loose, it usually remains connected to the main wire by a little colored rubber ring or a small steel ligature tie. Tweezers can be used to reposition the brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. Call our office and inform us of the problem. If a piece of your braces break, save the piece and call our office to schedule a repair visit.

Lost Separators

In case a rubber spacer or separator falls out, call our office so that we can arrange to replace it for you. If it happens a day before your appointment to put on braces or bands, you do not need to do anything.

If You Swallow Something

Remain calm if you swallow a piece of your appliance. It will usually go into the stomach and pass out of the body through the digestive tract. However, if difficulty breathing is experienced, you should seek immediate medical attention. X-rays will be taken to determine the location of the swallowed piece.

Broken Retainer

If a retainer cracks or breaks, remove the retainer from your mouth and bring all the pieces to our office for professional repair.

Sore Teeth or Sore Gums

Take ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if your teeth are sore after your appointment. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE ANY HISTORY OF ALLERGIC REACTIONS.

Rinsing your mouth with a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt can also be soothing. If your teeth get sore suddenly in the middle of the month, give us a call because it is unusual for the teeth to get sore several weeks after your last office visit.

If food becomes stuck between your teeth, use dental floss or a proxy brush to dislodge the food. If you cut your gums, tongue or the inside of your cheek, apply finger pressure to the bleeding site for several minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, call your family dentist or our office.

Minor irritations and canker sores will heal much more quickly if you apply Zylactin or Orabase according to the manufacturer’s directions. You can purchase it over the counter at most pharmacies and convenient stores.

Orthodontics for Children and Adults