How to deal with anything broken or pokin’

How to deal with anything broken or pokin’
Posted on 09/24/2020

The Orthodontic Emergency.

It never fails, these situations tend to occur on vacations, weekends, and after hours. You are stuck somewhere and forced to become the doctor of your own mouth or your child’s mouth. When things go wrong, it can cause discomfort. Below are tips and tricks to diagnose the problem and manage any discomfort until you can visit your orthodontic professional.

Broken Bracket:

The bracket is the actual attachment to the tooth—glued on the front side. If a bracket comes off it may or may not cause discomfort depending on the location. If there are neighboring brackets on either side, there is usually no pain associated. Without a bracket attached, the tooth will be free to shift. It is important to see your orthodontic professional in a timely manner to prevent any unwanted tooth movement. If you have an upcoming appointment, the bracket can be reattached at that visit; if you just visited recently, call and schedule an extra visit. When the bracket comes off of a back tooth this will likely be associated with a poking wire, which can be uncomfortable. To ease discomfort, placing wax or cotton in the area can help. You may also clip the wire with nail clippers or cuticle scissors as close to adjacent bracket on the tooth.

The Poking Wire:

The wire runs inside the brackets, connecting the teeth. During the course of treatment, some tooth movements result in the wire poking out the back - you can see or feel the wire extending beyond the last bracket. At times, this is done on purpose based on the shape and size of the wire and your treatment. If the wire is causing discomfort, you should call to schedule an appointment. The best defense is to place wax or cotton in the area of the poking wire until it can be clipped.

The Power Chain:

During treatment, power chain is used to close spaces. This is when the colored ties on the teeth are all connected. Power chain is elastic and can break. While this does not cause discomfort, it can slow treatment progress. If the chain is still intact but came off of a bracket, you can occasionally repair this with tweezers.

The Band:

This is the sturdy bracket that wraps around the tooth completely. These can occasionally break since they are located on the back teeth where we do the bulk of our chewing. If one of these breaks it will likely leave an uncomfortable rough edge near the tongue or cheek. Try to avoid chewing on the side with the loose band and avoid anything sticky! If it comes completely undone you likely won’t be able to close all the way.


Some variations are used to open space, while the others are used to close it. Springs can be placed on the wire or over the top of the wire. Occasionally, when playing with a spring with your tongue it can unwind from the wire. Other springs can come loose or unattached. A spring gone rogue is likely to cause discomfort. Additionally, if the spring is not attached properly, the teeth are not moving as intended and you should schedule a visit. Use wax or cotton for comfort until we can see you for a repair!


If your removable retainer is broken or lost your teeth may move if there is too much time before you are able to visit. If the retainer is split or cracked—continue wearing it! A broken retainer is often better than nothing. If your retainer has a rough or sharp edge this can be smoothed with a nail file so you are still able to wear it. Bonded retainers break—often! This leaves a poking edge to your tongue and you will want to call for a repair. Until you are able to visit your removable retainer can be worn to keep the wire from poking; the removable retainer is the best defense and can also hold the teeth in place. At times, you may be able to push the sharp edge away from your tongue with the back of a pencil eraser.


These are complicated, glued-in devices that we use often for bite correction. When broken or causing discomfort, they often need completely removed and repaired. It is best to call and schedule a visit right away with a broken appliance.

For more information, visit our page – Handling Orthodontic Emergencies

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Trimmell Anders & White Orthodontics

  • East Location - 2143 N. Collective Ln., Suite A, Wichita, KS 67206 Phone: (316) 260-6566 Fax: (316) 260-9959
  • West Location - 3933 N. Maize Rd., Wichita, KS 67101 Phone: (316) 260-6566 Fax: (316) 260-9959