For many people, getting braces is a rite of passage during their teenage years. Dentists and orthodontists typically prescribe braces as a way to straighten teeth, close any gaps, or realign the jaw. (This is otherwise known as ‘correcting the bite,’ ensuring your top and bottom teeth meet up when your mouth is closed).
As orthodontic treatment can sometimes take years to complete, braces are designed to last for long periods. Unlike other procedures such as dentures or bridges, braces aren’t removable and therefore have to withstand being worn for 24 hours a day. This means they should be pretty durable – but accidents can always happen.
Your braces can break for a number of reasons, and when they do, your number one concern should be getting them fixed as soon as possible. Whether a bracket has broken, the wire has snapped, or your braces come loose, faulty braces won’t do the job they’re supposed to – and any raw edges could cut the inside of your mouth.
At Valley Ridge Dental, we’re proud to have been providing orthodontic treatment to families in NW Calgary for 18 years. If your braces have broken and you’re not sure what to do, this post will explain the steps you should take that will have you smiling again in no time!
1) Contact Your Dentist Or Orthodontist
This is the most important thing to do after your braces have broken. As soon as you possibly can, either call your local practice or go into the surgery to explain what the problem is. If the breakage is serious, you may be offered an emergency appointment – and if your practice doesn’t think your case is urgent, they’ll be able to advise you how to manage the problem until it’s time for your next appointment.
Remember, it’s vital not to try and fix your braces by yourself. If the wire has slipped out of your end bracket, it’s generally fine to slide it back into position. Try using the erasure end of a pencil to push the wire; otherwise, you could hurt your finger. For more serious problems, such as snapped wire or broken brackets, leave this to the professionals.
It’s not unheard of for some people to try and reattach broken brackets to their teeth using super glue! This is a terrible idea as superglue is harmful if swallowed, unlike dental adhesive, and very difficult to adjust if you put the bracket in the wrong place. Always contact your orthodontist and follow their instructions, no matter how tempting it may be to try your hand at some dental DIY.
2) Work Out Why Your Braces Might Have Broken
After contacting your dentist, your best course of action will depend on why – and how – your braces have broken. The most common reasons for breakages include:
- Eating unsuitable foods such as crunchy apples, gummy sweets or anything that requires a lot of chewing
- Brushing your teeth too vigorously
- An impact to your mouth, for example during a fall or while playing sports without a mouthguard
Understanding why your braces have broken will help you to take preventative steps in the future to stop it from happening again once your braces have been fixed. Some basic rules to follow include sticking to softer foods that won’t put too much pressure on your braces, and always wearing a mouth guard if you play a contact sport.
3) Protect Your Mouth From Any Sharp Edges or Wire
When you were first fitted with your braces, your dentist might have given you a small supply of orthodontic wax. (If not, don’t worry – you can easily buy some from most drugstores or by searching online). This wax is clear, tasteless, and completely safe to put in your mouth.
If the wire in your braces has snapped, it may have left a sharp edge that can get caught on the soft tissue in your mouth, such as your tongue, cheek, or lip. This can be incredibly painful, making eating and talking a difficult (and uncomfortable) process.
To tide you over before you see your dentist, break off a small piece of orthodontic wax and roll it around in your fingers to make it soft and malleable. Make sure your braces are clean and dry, then apply the wax to the sharp edge of the wire to stop it from damaging your mouth.
This will help to protect you from cuts before you’re able to arrange an appointment to get the wire replaced.
4) Make A Warm Salt Water Rinse
If your brace has already cut the inside of your mouth, you’ll need to take care of the wound to stop it from getting infected. Even small scrapes have the potential to turn into mouth ulcers if left untreated, so the best thing to do is to rinse out your mouth regularly with warm salt water to cleanse the area and soothe any irritation.
Salt has long been used as an anti-inflammatory. The Ancient Greeks were well aware of its medicinal benefits, and to this day, it’s still recommended as an effective home remedy for treating mild dental sores. This is because salt changes the pH levels of your mouth, creating an alkaline environment in which bacteria – which typically thrive in more acidic pHs – can’t survive.
To make the warm salt water rinse, add half a teaspoon of table salt to a glass of warm (not hot) water and stir. Being careful not to swallow any, swill the mixture around in your mouth for approximately 30 seconds, and spit out. You can repeat this every few hours if necessary until the irritation caused by your braces has started to heal.
If your braces have broken, it’s important to contact your dentist immediately. In the meantime, why not try our tips and make your braces more comfortable while you wait for your next appointment?