Orthodontic Emergencies

Quality Orthodontic Care in Chapel Hill, NC

At Clifton & Mauney Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, we're proud to provide comprehensive dental and orthodontic treatment to children and adults throughout the Chapel Hill, NC area. We offer a variety of pediatric dental and orthodontic services including dental hygiene, braces for kids, and adult orthodontic treatment, and while the majority of the care we provide is preventative or routine, sometimes, orthodontic emergencies can come up. While rare, it's important to know what to do if an orthodontic emergency ever does arise for you or your child.

*Note* Need help right now? Please call the office at (919) 933-1007 and we'd be happy to talk with you. If you're experiencing a serious emergency or it's outside our office hours, call 911.

About Dental & Orthodontic Emergencies

It's normal for braces to take some time to get used to, especially when you first get them. It's common for orthodontic patients to experience some minor soreness or discomfort, as this is all part of the process of moving your teeth to new positions. That said, sometimes problems happen – so what do you do if you experience an orthodontic emergency? The first step is understanding whether it's a minor issue you can fix at home or a serious emergency that requires immediate attention.

Major Orthodontic & Dental Emergencies

True dental or orthodontic emergencies are rare, but they do happen. Any of the following issues is a serious emergency, and you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of them:

  • Injury or major trauma to the face, mouth, or the teeth

  • A serious infection of the gums, teeth, face, or mouth

  • Persistent, severe, and unmanageable pain or discomfort in your mouth or face


Any of these situation constitute a serious emergency, and if it's outside our office hours or you feel the problem could be life threatening, your best option is to head straight to an emergency room. If the problem isn't life threatening and it's during our office hours, call us at (919) 933-1007 to let us know what's happening. We may tell you to head to the emergency room or may have you come in immediately for an emergency dental appointment.

Minor Problems

Most of the time, problems with your orthodontic treatment are only minor issues, and you can often solve them at home or fix them temporarily until you come into our office. With the following conditions, do what you can to fix the problem at home and call us so we can set up a repair appointment.

Loose or Broken Brackets or Wires in Your Braces

While this is something we all try to avoid, sometimes, the brackets, wires, or bands that make up your braces can break or come loose. The most common cause for this is eating hard or sticky food or from playing with your braces. If a bracket comes off that is still attached to the wire, just leave it where it is and consider covering it with a piece of dental wax. If any part of your braces falls off, make sure to save it so you can bring it into your repair appointment. No matter what the situation, be sure to call us ASAP to let us know what happened and to schedule a repair appointment.

Painful Wire, Tie, or Bracket

Sometimes, as the teeth move to their new positions, your archwire may start to poke out the back of your braces and irritate your cheeks or gums. If this happens, you can try using a clean pencil eraser to move the wire so it's no longer poking you, or you may cover it with a piece of dental wax to provide relief. If none of that is effective, you can cut the wire using a pair of sterilized nail clippers. If you think you need to do this, please call us beforehand so we can guide you and provide instructions. If you have to cut a wire outside our office hours, call us immediately so we can schedule a repair appointment.

Tooth Pain, Soreness, or Loosening

During your orthodontic treatment, you may notice that your teeth feel looser in your mouth than normal – but don't worry, that's completely normal. In fact, that means they're moving to their new positions just as intended! If you do experience discomfort, you can use over-the-counter painkillers to manage it, and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water twice a day can also help to alleviate soreness. Usually, discomfort will fade within a week after getting your braces or having them adjusted. That said, if you experience pain that's too intense to be manageable and that doesn't get better, call us right away so we can evaluate whether or not there's a problem.

Contact Your Chapel Hill, NC Invisalign & Braces Expert

Thankfully, true orthodontic emergencies are exceedingly rare – but if you ever do experience one, the team at Clifton & Mauney is standing by to help. As a proud provider of dental and orthodontic care to children and adults throughout the Chapel Hill area, we are committed to providing comprehensive treatment and serving as a resource to you during your treatment. Feel free to call us at 919-933-1007 or reach out to us at our contact page if you have any questions about treatment or your orthodontic health, and if you'd like to come in for a visit, you can use our easy online form to schedule an appointment at our Chapel Hill, NC office. We are excited to help you achieve the smile of your dreams and help you maintain it for a lifetime!