Helpful Orthodontic Appliance Repair Tips


Orthodontic emergencies are unusual and most orthodontic repairs can wait to be handled at your next regularly scheduled appointment. A broken bracket or ligature may be annoying but rarely painful; these types of repairs can be made at a routine visit. On the other hand, a displaced wire or other traumatic incident may require immediate attention.

You can call the office to receive instruction on how to care for your emergency and how to contact a responsible assistant. Here at RTO, we always have a doctor or assistant “on call” to help you with these problems, most of which can be alleviated at home. This is certainly your first line of action. Never hesitate to give us a call! We want you to feel comfortable and assured that all is under control.


How To Handle Common Appliance Repairs & Issues


Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so taking care of your braces, clear aligners, and/or retainer is important. Some common issues with your orthodontic appliances can be taken care of at home until you can come in and have the appliance repaired. For example, a few common issues with braces that can be fixed at home are loose bands or brackets, broken or poking arch wires, and dislodged wires. Watch the videos below of Dr. Steve, Jr. explaining the common minor problems that may occur with your braces during orthodontic treatment and simple steps to alleviate them:


Wire Dislodged From Molar Brace



Retainer & Aligner Repair



Poking Wire & Wax



Poking Ligature Wire



Loose Or Broken Bracket



Long Wire Poking In The Cheek



Quick Do-It-Yourself Braces Repairs


During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you likely will feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. You may find it useful to look at the pictures below of common minor problems that may occur with your braces and simple steps to alleviate them.


Loose Brackets Or Bands



Cutting a loose wire with a nail clipper or scissors (that have been sterilized in alcohol) may make you more comfortable. Be careful of the free end of the wire after it has been snipped.


Wire Irritations



Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab, Q-tip, or pencil eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.


Lost Separators



Most patients lose a separator during their treatments. Do not worry about losing a separator; it will not need to be replaced.


Schedule Braces Repairs


Our office has time for emergency adjustments during normal clinic hours each day. We will schedule your appointment as soon as possible.

Emergencies generally fall into two categories:


Direct Injuries To The Mouth & Teeth


Following a direct injury to your mouth or teeth, you should see your general dentist as soon as possible. An x-ray of the involved tooth may be needed to determine the extent of the injury. Contact your dentist first if a tooth has been lost, severely displaced or fractured. Our orthodontic office may not have the necessary materials to treat your injuries.


Emergencies Related To Orthodontic Appliances


Broken or disturbed appliances may occur during your orthodontic care. Loose bands, broken or poking wires, and dislodged or displaced orthodontic appliances should be reported to our office during regular office hours. We will evaluate the urgency of the problem and schedule an appointment for you. In the interim, follow these temporary measures:

  • An irritating tie wire can be covered with wax or tucked under the arch wire using a blunt object such as a pencil eraser or a Q-tip.
  • A loose band or bracket can usually be left in place until your office appointment.
  • A broken arch wire or one that is irritating the gum or cheek tissue requires replacement or adjustment.
  • A bent headgear facebow or ill-fitting removable appliance should not be worn until it is properly adjusted during your office visit.

Get Immediate Assistance


If you are unsure of what to do or if you are in pain, please feel free to call. You deserve to be comfortable. During normal hours, call the office. After hours, we have someone “on call” at each location.

Contact Our Offices

If you are experiencing a severe orthodontic emergency and require immediate attention, please call the emergency phone number for your office for assistance.