Dental Terms

Orthodontic Emergencies North York

At Stonebrook Dental in North York, we understand that orthodontic emergencies can happen, and we're here to provide you with guidance on how to address common issues at home. To assist you in accurately describing any emergency to our orthodontist, refer to the diagram at the end of this section, which labels the different parts of braces. Additionally, we've included a list of supplies you should keep on hand for minor emergencies.

True Emergencies

1. Trauma to a Tooth Resulting in Tooth Loss

  • If a tooth has been knocked out, avoid cleaning it.
  • Immediately call your orthodontist or Dr. Nubia Díaz at Stonebrook Dental to inform them of the situation.
  • Hold the enamel end of the tooth (not the pointed root end).
  • Do not rinse the tooth in water or scrub the root; you may remove large debris.
  • If possible, reposition the tooth in its socket and hold it in place with gauze or a washcloth. If this isn't possible, store the tooth in a cup of milk or saline solution, or between the cheek and gum. Avoid using plain water.
  • Apply an ice pack to the affected soft tissue area to reduce swelling.
  • Keep the tooth from drying out, as prompt care increases the chances of saving it.

2. Broken Tooth

  • Clean the injured area and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.
  • Save the tip of the broken tooth (for potential reattachment) and contact Dr. Nubia Díaz at Stonebrook Dental immediately.

3. Piece of Orthodontic Appliance is Swallowed or Aspirated

If you can see the piece, you may attempt to carefully remove it. Do not attempt if it risks harm to the patient.

If the patient is coughing excessively or having difficulty breathing, the piece may have been aspirated (drawn into the lung).

If there is no coughing or breathing difficulty and you suspect the piece has been swallowed, contact the patient's orthodontist for guidance.

If you are unable to see the piece and believe it may have been aspirated, call 911 (or the appropriate emergency number for your area) and the orthodontist immediately. The patient should be taken to an urgent care facility for an x-ray to locate the piece and determine the best removal method.

Other Problems

4. A Bracket is Knocked Off

If a bracket becomes dislodged, contact your orthodontist, who will determine the necessary course of action.

If the loose bracket has rotated on the wire and is sticking out, attempt to turn it back into its normal position and call your orthodontist for an appointment to reattach it. You may apply orthodontic wax to minimize movement if you are experiencing discomfort. If in pain, notify your orthodontist.

Note that brackets can become loose due to chewing on hard, sticky, or chewy foods or objects, as well as physical contact during sports or rough activities. Always wear a protective mouthguard during sports.

5. The Archwire is Poking

If the end of an orthodontic archwire is causing discomfort, place wax over the area to protect your cheek. Contact your orthodontist to schedule an appointment for trimming. If you are uncomfortable, inform your orthodontist. In severe cases where immediate assistance is not possible, you may clip the wire using sharp clippers, such as fingernail clippers, as a last resort. Use folded tissue or gauze to catch the snipped piece to avoid swallowing it. Relief wax may still be necessary for comfort.

6. "Ligature Wire" is Poking Lip or Cheek

If a ligature wire is causing irritation, use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to gently push the wire flat against the tooth. If you cannot adjust it comfortably, cover it with relief wax and notify your orthodontist.

7. Loose Brackets, Wires, or Bands

If any part of your braces has come loose, contact your orthodontist for guidance. Save any broken pieces to bring with you for repair.

8. Irritation of Lips or Cheeks

Apply a small amount of orthodontic wax to the braces to create a barrier between the braces and your lips, cheeks, or tongue. Pinch off a small piece of wax, roll it into a ball the size of a pea, flatten it, and place it over the irritating area. If possible, dry the area first for better adhesion. The wax is safe if accidentally swallowed.

9. Mouth Sores

If you have mouth sores during orthodontic treatment, apply a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the sore area using a cotton swab. Reapply as needed for relief.

10. Discomfort After Adjustments

It's normal to experience discomfort for a few days after braces or retainers are adjusted. Stick to soft foods, rinse your mouth with warm salt water, and consider over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for relief.

11. Lost Ligature (Rubber or Wire)

If an elastic or wire ligature is lost, contact your orthodontist for guidance on whether you should be seen. The same applies to wire ligatures.

12. Lip Gets Caught on a Brace

  • Contact your orthodontist or Dr. Nubia Díaz immediately.
  • Apply ice to the affected area until you receive care from your orthodontist or Dr. Nubia Díaz at Stonebrook Dental.

13. Inability to Open Mouth

If you are unable to open your mouth due to lower jaw joint issues or swelling, contact your orthodontist or Dr. Nubia Díaz at Stonebrook Dental and describe your symptoms.

14. Food Caught Between Teeth

If food becomes trapped between your teeth, use dental floss to remove it. Consider tying a knot in the floss for more effective removal or use an interproximal brush to dislodge the food.


To be prepared for common brace emergencies, keep these supplies on hand:

  • Non-medicated orthodontic relief wax
  • Dental floss
  • Sterile tweezers
  • Small, sharp clippers (e.g., fingernail clippers) for cutting wire
  • Q-tips
  • Salt
  • Interproximal brush
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  • Oral topical anesthetic (e.g., Orabase or Ora-Gel)

Contact Stonebrook Dental for Your Orthodontic Needs

If you encounter an orthodontic emergency or have concerns about your braces, don't hesitate to reach out to Stonebrook Dental. Our team is here to assist you and provide guidance on handling common issues. Please call us at (416) 636-4227 to schedule an appointment or visit us at 4401 Bathurst Street, Suite 302 in North York, ON. We're committed to ensuring your orthodontic journey is as smooth as possible.

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