How Do I Know If I Have An Orthodontic Emergency?

Orthodontic emergencies happen even with the best precautions, which is why you need a family ortho you can trust to provide urgent care when you need it most. At Stellar Family Orthodontics in Mill Creek and Mukilteo, Washington, Dr. Chad Carver, DMD, and the team offer responsive care for loose brackets, broken wires, and other common orthodontic emergencies.

What is an orthodontic emergency?

An orthodontic emergency is any type of damage to your braces that reduces their efficacy or causes intense pain. While orthodontic emergencies can feel overwhelming at first, having an experienced orthodontist in your corner is essential for protecting your teeth and gums.

What qualifies as an orthodontic emergency?

Not all damage to your teeth or braces warrants an emergency visit. However, there are certain orthodontic emergencies that require urgent care to ensure your braces remain effective, including:

  • Broken braces wires
  • Broken brackets
  • Poking archwire
  • Loose band
  • Dislodged or displaced appliance

Braces can withstand plenty of force, but a direct injury to the mouth or gradual force can trigger an emergency situation. Certain foods, such as chewy caramels or hard candy, can damage and weaken braces.

In most cases, severely damaged teeth and braces are the result of a blow to the mouth, such as a sports injury or accident. However, any impairment can affect your orthodontics’ ability to straighten crooked teeth or a bad bite.

What happens if I have an orthodontic emergency?

If you think you have an emergency, contact the orthodontic specialists at Stellar Family Dentistry right away. Our team is available to offer professional advice and care. Once they help you determine your next steps, they will schedule you for your emergency visit.

In the meantime, here are some tips to help you preserve your teeth and braces:

Broken archwire

A broken archwire in your braces can feel extremely uncomfortable. Not only can it affect your treatment duration, it may also irritate the soft tissues inside your mouth. 

If you have a broken archwire, try cutting it with nail clippers or bending it with a pencil eraser. This can help keep your mouth free of injury before your appointment.

Loose band or bracket

Even a single broken bracket or band can negatively impact your entire braces treatment. Once our team determines the severity of the damage, they will schedule an emergency visit to reattach the appliance.

Irritating tie wire

An irritating tie wire can leave your mouth vulnerable to cuts and sores. To relieve your pain and discomfort, try covering it with wax or hide it under the archwire with a soft, blunt object, such as a pencil eraser or Q-tip.

Lost separator

A separator expands the space around your molars to prepare for orthodontic treatment. Separators help the bands of your braces fit in comfortably. If you have a lost separator, you may not need it replaced, but only an exam can make that call.


Initial tooth pain is expected with any type of orthodontics, including traditional braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign® clear aligners. However, if you’re experiencing pain long after having your braces fitted, ask for an orthodontic exam with Dr. Carver.

Broken teeth

If you’ve suffered a direct injury to the mouth that has cracked or broken your teeth, contact your family dentist. Stellar Kids Dentistry provides care for pediatric dental emergencies, including fractured teeth. 

Our emergency line is on call 24 hours a day to provide care for urgent orthodontic problems. To schedule a free orthodontic consultation, call Stellar Family Orthodontics or book an appointment online now!