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4 Things to Do When a Braces Bracket Breaks

Braces brackets or wires can become damaged or broken. This common inconvenience can quickly cause discomfort. Brackets, bands, spacers, and wires can break for several reasons, like eating hard or crunchy foods, sustaining a mouth injury, or even brushing your teeth too vigorously. Not to worry, though. Learn four steps to do if a braces bracket comes off or you have some other damage.

1. Inspect the Damage

The first step is to assess the area of your mouth with the broken appliance. Once you find the root of the problem, it is tempting to touch and test the device, but it is best to contact your dentist or orthodontist and ask for advice.

2. Take Control

Unfortunately, you can't glue a bracket back on yourself. But here are a few things you can do to relieve discomfort and hopefully make it easier for your orthodontist to fix the problem.

  • If you have a loose bracket: Brackets are metal or ceramic pieces that are attached to each tooth. Your orthodontist will use an adhesive material to attach them to your teeth. The adhesive or glue can weaken or break, causing the bracket to come loose. If bracket glue came off and the bracket can be easily removed, bring it to your orthodontist, and they will address the problem. If the wire is still attached to the bracket, leave it and use orthodontic wax to hold the bracket in place.
  • If you have a protruding or broken wire: Orthodontic wires connect bracketed teeth and ultimately guide teeth into proper alignment. Broken wires can stick out and hurt the inside of your mouth. If the wire is still attached to the bracket but sticking out, try to gently move it back into position with a cotton swab or pencil eraser. If it is still protruding, use orthodontic wax to cover the pointed end of the wire until you can see your orthodontist.
  • If you have a loose spacer: Spacers are small rubber rings between your teeth to make space for bands to fit around your teeth comfortably. They are usually left in place for a few days before placing braces on your teeth. If your spacers move out of position or fall out entirely, no need to worry! It most likely means that you're ready to have your bands put on.
  • Loose band: Bands are the metal rings that fully surround your back teeth (and sometimes front teeth). If you feel a band has come loose, call your orthodontist to have it replaced or re-cemented. Never try to put a band back on a tooth yourself. If it comes off completely, save it and bring it to your appointment for reattachment. A loose band may come off without your knowledge, and there is some risk of choking or swallowing it. The good news is that most orthodontic patients today have few to no bands on their teeth.

3. Book an Appointment

If you're not experiencing much discomfort and the break is not interfering with treatment, your orthodontist may wait to repair it until your next regularly scheduled appointment. However, it's always a good idea to call the office as soon as you experience a problem, and they will let you know if you need to come in earlier. If you need an appointment, your orthodontist will examine your braces and either repair or replace broken brackets or wires.

4. Take Care of Your Mouth and Relieve Discomfort

There are a few ways you can protect your mouth from additional trauma and ease any discomfort. Start by avoiding hard, crunchy foods like apples and raw carrots and sticky foods, like taffies and caramels. Instead, stick to eating soft foods like boiled eggs, yogurt, and soft bread to avoid any further damage to the bracket. If a broken wire has caused a sore, rinse your mouth regularly with salt water or use an antiseptic rinse to reduce discomfort or temporarily numb the area. If you are still experiencing discomfort, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce your pain.

Broken orthodontic appliances can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it's very rarely a dental emergency. Your orthodontist will know what to do to fix you right up and get you back on the road to your ideal smile! All you need to worry about is staying positive, keeping up with good oral hygiene with twice-daily cleaning around your wires and brackets, and keeping yourself comfortable while you wait.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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