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How to Handle Orthodontic Emergencies During COVID-19

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smiling mom and little girl with braces at home Hello Shirck Orthodontics Family! Obviously, this is a unique time in all of our lives, and most especially for dental and orthodontic offices alike. Our goal is to minimize having patients enter our Powell office for the next three weeks (as is also recommended by the American Dental Association) to help do our part to “Flatten the Curve” of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are still open to handle emergency appointments where patients are in pain and need to be made comfortable. However, many orthodontic emergencies in Powell can actually be handled at home by utilizing a few common items (floss, tweezers, a pencil eraser, and nail clippers). This blog will provide a short guide for our patients and parents so they can solve minor problems on their own while we wait for this pandemic to slow down and dental offices to reopen.

Food Caught Between the Teeth

This typically isn’t an emergency, but it can be a bit awkward and embarrassing if a piece of food just won’t come loose from braces. Thankfully, even the most stubborn debris can usually be removed using dental floss or even a toothpick. Just be sure to NOT use scissors or a knife to do this, as it may lead to oral injury.

Ligature (Rubber Band) Comes Off

The ligatures help hold the wires onto the brackets, so they must stay in place. If one partially comes off, try to push it back with either a Q-tip or sterile tweezers. If the ligature has completely come off, you can attempt to put it back into place with tweezers, but be very careful. Be sure to give us a call if you can’t get the ligature back into position or if other ones start to come off as well.

Oral Pain

Some sensitivity and tenderness are normal after having braces put on or adjusted, so if you or your child are experiencing this, just give it a few days to go away. In the meantime, an OTC medication should be able to adequately manage the discomfort. Be sure to give us a call if the pain is getting worse or persists for about a week, however.


The metal brackets can sometimes rub against the cheeks and lips in such a way that they cause a sore spot, but placing a little dental wax is usually enough to fix the problem. But, if this doesn’t help, and if the sores seem to be getting worse, go ahead and give our team a call.

Poking Wire

First, try to gently push the wire away from the cheeks or lips using the eraser end of a pencil. Is it still poking? As a last resort, you may be able to snip the wire using some nail clippers, but be sure to contact our office before doing this.

Loose Bracket

For a loose bracket that is still attached to the wire and generally centered above the tooth, try to gently push it back into place using the eraser of a pencil. You may need to slide it along the wire with some sterile tweezers if it has drifted away. If the bracket has completely come off, be sure to save it, and give our team a call right away.

We’re Here For You!

While we strongly recommend that you initially try to address any small orthodontic issues on your own for the time being, you’re always welcome to contact your orthodontist in Powell for advice, and we won’t hesitate to see you if you or your child is in significant pain. Please give us a call anytime if you have questions as well!