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Orthodontic Emergencies: What to Do When Your Braces Break or Hurt

Orthodontic treatment can be a transformative journey towards a healthier, more confident smile. However, like any medical treatment, there may be unexpected challenges. One such challenge is facing orthodontic emergencies, such as broken braces or discomfort. Knowing how to handle these situations can help minimize pain, prevent further damage, and keep your treatment on track.


Braces, in orthodontics, are orthodontic devices used to align and straighten teeth, correct bite issues, and improve overall dental health and aesthetics. Braces exert controlled pressure on teeth by using brackets, wires, and sometimes bands, gradually guiding them into proper alignment over time. Braces apply consistent force to the teeth, encouraging them to move into the desired position. Modern braces come in various types, including traditional metal braces, ceramic braces that blend with the teeth, lingual braces attached to the back, and clear aligners like Invisalign. At McManus Orthodontics, our orthodontists customize braces to suit each patient's needs, considering factors such as tooth misalignment, jaw structure, and treatment goals. Throughout the treatment process, adjustments are made periodically to ensure progress and address any emerging issues. Braces enhance the smile's appearance and contribute to better oral health by facilitating proper tooth alignment, improving bite function, and reducing the risk of dental complications such as decay and gum disease.

The Benefits of Braces

Improved Bite Function

Braces in Rock Island, IL, not only straighten crooked teeth but also correct bite problems such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites. A misaligned bite can cause discomfort, difficulty chewing, and even jaw pain. By aligning the teeth and jaws properly, braces help improve bite function, enabling more efficient chewing and reducing strain on the jaw muscles.

Prevention of Dental Complications

Beyond the immediate benefits of a straighter smile and improved bite function, braces also play a crucial role in preventing future dental complications. Misaligned teeth and bite issues can contribute to various problems, including uneven wear, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and speech impediments. By addressing these issues early with orthodontic treatment, braces help prevent developing more serious dental problems later in life.

Boosted Confidence and Self-Esteem

While the functional benefits of braces are undeniable, their impact on self-confidence and self-esteem should be noticed. For many, having a straighter smile can be life-changing, improving confidence in social and professional settings. By aligning the teeth and creating a more harmonious smile, braces empower individuals to feel more confident in their appearance, leading to greater self-assurance and a more positive self-image.

What to Do When Your Braces Break or Hurt?

Assess the Situation

If you experience any discomfort or notice damage to your braces, carefully assess the situation to determine the severity of the problem. Look for broken or loose brackets, wires poking out, or any signs of injury to your mouth.

Contact Our Orthodontist

In case of orthodontic emergencies, it's essential to contact our orthodontist in Rock Island, IL, as soon as possible. They can guide you over the phone and advise you on the next steps. They may schedule an emergency appointment to address the issue promptly if necessary.

Manage Discomfort

While waiting to see your orthodontist, you can take steps to alleviate discomfort. Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater to soothe irritation, and use orthodontic wax to cover any sharp edges or protruding wires. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help reduce pain or inflammation.

Handle Broken Braces Carefully

If you have a broken bracket, keep it in place by applying orthodontic wax or gently repositioning it with tweezers. Avoid touching the broken braces excessively to prevent further damage or injury.

Follow Orthodontist's Instructions

Our orthodontist will provide specific instructions based on the nature of the emergency. Follow their guidance carefully and attend any emergency appointments as scheduled. Ignoring orthodontic emergencies or attempting to fix them yourself can lead to complications and prolong your treatment duration.

How to Maintain Braces?

Brushing & Flossing

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits while wearing braces is essential. It would help if you brushed your teeth after every meal and flossed at least once daily. When brushing your teeth with braces, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Also, use a waterpik or an interdental brush to clean between your teeth and the brackets of your braces.

Foods to Avoid

While wearing braces, you should avoid eating certain foods that could damage your braces or get stuck in them. These include sticky foods like caramel, popcorn, chewing gum, nuts, and hard candies. You should also avoid hard foods that could break or damage the brackets on your braces.


If you play sports, wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces from injury is essential. A custom-fitted mouthguard will be more comfortable and effective than a generic one.

Regular Checkups

It's essential to visit our orthodontist regularly for cleanings and checkups while you're wearing braces. Our orthodontist will be able to remove any plaque or tartar buildup around your braces and ensure that they're working correctly.

Orthodontic emergencies can be unsettling, but knowing how to respond can make all the difference in minimizing discomfort and preventing further damage. Visit McManus Orthodontics at 507 24th Street, Rock Island, IL 61201, or call (309) 558-0075, our orthodontist, immediately if you experience any issues with your braces, and follow their instructions closely. By taking proactive measures and staying prepared, you can confidently navigate orthodontic emergencies and keep your smile journey on track.


4507 24th Street,
Rock Island, IL 61201

Phone:  (309) 558-0075

Office Hours

MON7:00 am - 6:00 pm

TUE7:00 am - 6:00 pm

WED7:00 am - 6:00 pm

THU7:00 am - 6:00 pm

FRI7:00 am - 6:00 pm