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Orthodontic Emergencies for Children

Orthodontic treatment plays a crucial role in correcting dental misalignments and ensuring optimal oral health for children.

However, emergencies can arise during the course of orthodontic treatment that may require immediate attention. As a parent, it’s important to be aware of common orthodontic emergencies and how to handle them to minimize discomfort and prevent further complications.

In this article, we will discuss various orthodontic emergencies that can occur in children and provide helpful guidance on what to do in such situations.

1. Broken or Loose Brackets

One of the most common orthodontic emergencies is a broken or loose bracket. This can happen due to various reasons, such as eating hard or sticky foods, trauma to the mouth, or normal wear and tear.

If a bracket becomes detached or loose, it’s essential to contact your child’s orthodontist for guidance. In the meantime, you can use orthodontic wax to temporarily cover the sharp edges and prevent irritation or injury to the soft tissues inside the mouth.

2. Poking or Irritating Wires

Orthodontic wires can sometimes shift or protrude, causing discomfort or irritation to the cheeks, tongue, or gums. If your child experiences a poking wire, you can gently push it back into place using the eraser end of a pencil or cover the end with orthodontic wax.

However, if the wire is too long or causing significant discomfort, it’s best to contact the orthodontist for assistance.

3. Discomfort or Soreness

It’s common for children to experience some level of discomfort or soreness during orthodontic treatment, especially after an adjustment or the placement of a new appliance.

This discomfort usually subsides within a few days and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, as recommended by the orthodontist. Applying a warm compress or using a saltwater rinse can also help alleviate soreness.

4. Trauma or Injury

Accidents happen, and children may sometimes sustain injuries to their mouths while wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances. If your child experiences trauma or injury, it’s important to assess the severity of the situation.

If there is significant bleeding, swelling, or severe pain, seek immediate medical attention. In less severe cases, contact your child’s orthodontist to schedule an emergency appointment for a thorough examination.

5. Missing or Misplaced Appliances

Children may occasionally misplace or lose their orthodontic appliances, such as retainers, aligners, or elastics. It’s crucial to notify the orthodontist promptly and follow their instructions.

In the meantime, if the appliance is missing or damaged, instruct your child to continue wearing the most recent aligner or retainer and avoid any further adjustments until they can be seen by the orthodontist.

FAQs about Orthodontic Emergencies in Children

What should I do if my child swallows a piece of their orthodontic appliance?

Ingesting a small piece of the orthodontic appliance is usually harmless. However, it’s important to contact your child’s orthodontist for guidance and to ensure there are no potential risks or complications.

Can a broken bracket or wire be fixed at home?

While temporary measures can be taken at home, such as using orthodontic wax to cover sharp edges, it’s crucial to contact the orthodontist for professional assistance. They will guide you on whether the issue can be resolved at home or if an emergency visit is necessary.

What if my child experiences severe pain after an orthodontic adjustment?

Mild discomfort is common after orthodontic adjustments. However, if your child experiences severe pain that is not alleviated with over-the-counter pain relievers or home remedies, it’s advisable to contact the orthodontist for evaluation.

Can orthodontic emergencies be prevented?

While some emergencies are unavoidable, practicing good oral hygiene, following the orthodontist’s instructions, and avoiding hard or sticky foods can help minimize the risk of orthodontic emergencies.

How often should my child visit the orthodontist during treatment?

The frequency of orthodontic visits may vary depending on the specific treatment plan. Generally, children require regular check-ups every 4-8 weeks to monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.

Are orthodontic emergencies covered by insurance?

Coverage for orthodontic emergencies may vary depending on the insurance provider and policy. It’s advisable to check with your insurance company to understand the terms and conditions regarding emergency orthodontic care.


Orthodontic emergencies can occur during children’s orthodontic treatment, requiring prompt attention and proper handling. Being knowledgeable about common orthodontic emergencies and knowing how to address them can help parents alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications.

Remember to consult with your child’s orthodontist for specific guidance in any emergency situation. By staying proactive and responsive, you can ensure a smooth orthodontic journey for your child, promoting optimal oral health and a beautiful smile.

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8631 Arbor Creek Drive #3
Charlotte, NC 28269