Do I need an emergency orthodontist?

Accidents happen, and knowing your orthodontic treatment options is the best way to proceed with confidence when they occur. Although there are many quick fixes for the most common issues with braces, having access to an emergency orthodontist is the only guaranteed way to ensure your treatment plan remains on schedule. At Petty & Bielik Orthodontics in Oak Lawn, IL, we are here for you during an orthodontic emergency.

Do I need an emergency orthodontist?

Although serious orthodontic emergencies rarely happen, it’s essential to have access to an emergency orthodontist if they do. In an emergency with your braces, we are available to help you. When you choose Petty & Bielik Orthodontics for your braces in Oak Lawn, you receive comprehensive and emergency orthodontic treatment in one place.

There are several ways you can mitigate the discomfort of your misshapen appliance at home, but please call us if you experience any unexpected pain. Even if you can temporarily fix the issue, please contact us so we may repair the problem correctly. Wearing damaged appliances may cause your teeth to shift and disrupt your treatment schedule.

What can I do before my emergency orthodontic appointment?

Depending on when your orthodontic emergency happens, you might have to wait several days before your appointment. During this time, it’s crucial to follow a few steps to care for your mouth and preserve your appliance.

Loose, fallen or removed pieces

Save any part of your orthodontic appliance that leaves your mouth. Please bring it to your next appointment. You can place these pieces in an envelope or plastic bag for safekeeping.


General mouth soreness is expected for the first three to five days after getting braces. Teeth may feel sore, and you may feel pressure when biting or chewing. Eat a soft diet until the initial pressure subsides to minimize the feeling.

Tender lips, cheeks, or tongue

Lips, cheeks, and the tongue may feel tender for up to two weeks after getting braces. Gums may feel sensitive or irritated, and you may have sore spots in other parts of the mouth. You have several options for easing this discomfort.

Mix a solution of one teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water until the salt dissolves. Swish this solution in your mouth vigorously for a minute or more to ease your symptoms. Alternatively, you may also use Healthy Gums Rinse by The Natural Dentist.

Applying Orabase (benzocaine) to the affected area brings relief for many patients. Orabase is available over-the-counter at a pharmacy. In severe cases, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as directed. You may take aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) sparsely. For faster treatment, avoid taking these pain relievers regularly because they slow tooth movement.


Not wearing your prescribed headgear as instructed by your orthodontist may cause discomfort. Headgear becomes more comfortable the more you wear it; be sure to use it as directed. If the metal facebow is bent, please call us for an appointment to fix the issue.

Appliance poking

A loose appliance can cause irritating and unwanted poking in the mouth. To prevent this, apply wax to the problematic piece. We will show you how to apply wax to your braces for this and other uses. If a wire is poking outward, use a pencil eraser to press the wire down or cover it with wax.

Loose or fallen bracket

When the bracket is still attached to the wire, please leave it in place. You may secure it with wax for comfort. If the bracket or band has fallen, please save it to bring it to your next appointment.

Loose wire

If a wire has slid to the side, you can carefully glide it back with tweezers or needle-nose pliers and refit the tube onto the back tooth. You may need to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place. To do this, tie the floss around the bracket to replace the missing colored o-ring.

If you cannot shift the wire into a comfortable position, try to cover the end with wax. As a last resort, you may use small fingernail clippers to sever the wire slightly behind the last tooth where it is fastened securely.

Lost aligner tray

Misplacing or damaging your clear aligner tray can happen. The most effective way to prevent lost aligners is to make a habit of always placing them in their case when not in your mouth. If you have misplaced your aligner, do not move to the next aligner tray. Skipping ahead may seem like the logical solution, but it can cause your teeth to move too quickly and result in unnecessary discomfort. Instead, wear your previous tray until we can replace the missing tray.

What if I forgot how to use orthodontic wax?

Dr. Petty and Dr. Bielik are happy to show you how to apply orthodontic wax during your appointment. Don’t worry if you are in an emergency and do not remember how to use the wax. Applying the wax is simple.

Wash your hands and mouth thoroughly before applying the wax. Identify any irritated areas by looking for redness, abrasions, or sore spots. Look for a wire or bracket in a corresponding location that is causing the discomfort. Dry this part of the appliance with a tissue or clean cloth. Quickly roll the wax into a small ball to soften it. Using your fingertip, firmly press the wax over the wire or bracket that’s causing discomfort.

Contact us for emergency orthodontic care

Do not let an emergency with your braces extend your treatment times. Using the services of an emergency orthodontist keeps your appliances functioning correctly to maintain your braces timeline. If you’ve experienced an orthodontic emergency, contact us today at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics in Oak Lawn, IL to schedule an appointment.