Fixed braces FAQs
Although there are different brands of fixed braces, they all work in the same way and problems can happen. Here are the answers to some FAQs which arise for patients wearing fixed braces.
If you encounter any problems with your appliance contact the surgery immediately rather than wait for your next routine appointment. Emergency clinics are held every day at 09:00am and 2:00pm.
How can I fix a protruding wire?
Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and irritate the mouth. Use a cotton bud or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax.
In a situation where the wire is causing extreme pain and you are not able to see the orthodontist immediately, you may, as a last resort, snip off the protruding wire using a sharp pair of nail scissors or clippers. To reduce the possibility of swallowing the snipped piece of wire, use a folded tissue or gauze around the area. Relief wax may still be necessary to provide comfort to the irritated area.
What happens if brackets, wires or bands come loose?
If the braces have come loose in any way, call us immediately so we can determine what needs to be done. Brackets are the parts of braces attached to teeth with a special adhesive. They are generally positioned in the centre of each tooth but can be knocked off if hard or crunchy foods have been eaten.
If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out and you cannot immediately reach the orthodontist, you can do a temporary fix to ease discomfort and prevent further damage. This must only be done as a last resort. Take care to prevent swallowing or other injury.
To put the bracket back in place, use clean tweezers to slide the bracket along the wire until it is between two teeth. Rotate the bracket back to the proper position then slide it back to the centre of the tooth.
What should I do if my ligatures have come off?
Tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires, known as ligatures, hold the wire to the bracket. If a rubber ligature should come off, you may be able to put it back in place using clean tweezers. If a wire ligature comes loose, simply remove it with tweezers. If the wire ligature is sticking out into the lip but is not loose, it can be bent back down with a cotton bud or pencil eraser to eliminate the irritation.
When one ligature pops off or breaks, others may follow. Examine all ligatures adjacent to the missing ligature. Please notify us so we can check whether the ligature needs to be replaced.
How can I treat mouth sores?
Some patients are susceptible to episodes of mouth sores. While braces do not cause them, they may be made worse by an irritation from braces. One or several areas of ulceration of the cheeks, lips or tongue may appear. This is not an emergency, but may be very uncomfortable. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anaesthetic (such as Bonjela® or Brace Relief) directly to the ulcerated surface using a cotton swab. Re-apply this when needed or as directed by the instructions on the product.
How can I prevent irritation of lips or cheeks?
Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between brace and mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation. Eating will then become more comfortable (avoid hot drinks as this will melt the wax). If the wax is accidentally ingested, it’s not a problem as the wax is harmless.
Is it normal to feel some discomfort?
When you first wear your appliance you may experience some discomfort for a day or two as your teeth will be tender. This discomfort is both normal and temporary. You may take aspirin, paracetamol, or similar pain killers as directed on the packet, if you find it helps and eat soft foods.
What happens if I get food caught between teeth?
This is not an emergency, but can be a little uncomfortable. It is easily fixed with dental floss. Try tying a small knot in the middle of the floss to help remove the food, or use an interproximal brush or toothpick to dislodge food caught between teeth and braces.
What’s the best way to look after my fixed appliance?
Brush your teeth as directed by the hygienist, morning and night, and after every meal or snack. Use interdental brushes to clean underneath the wires and sides of brackets. These should be discarded when they begin to look worn. We recommend you buy a fixed appliance kit from reception. It includes Gel-Kam, full and travel size interdental brushes, travel toothpaste, disclosing tablets and wax.
It is also best if you stick to a soft diet and avoid any sticky foods such as chewing gum or toffees. Cut hard food such as pie crust or apples into small pieces, and avoid biting pen tops or finger nails as these can distort the wires or break off brackets, which will delay treatment. Also avoid all fizzy drinks, sweets and sugary snacks during treatment.