It can be scary to be at home, school, or sports practice and feel a part of your braces loosen or even fall completely off your tooth. The good news is that most times these emergencies are minor. A bracket that’s come loose, a wire out of place, or even something falling out of your appliance can be easily fixed by your orthodontist. But here are a few general rules and tips for how to handle these situations in the moment and until you can get into the office for a visit.
What are Some Common Orthodontic Emergencies?
Most emergencies involving braces center around a wire or rubber band coming detached. These two issues are minor and can be easily fixed by your orthodontist. Sometimes a bracket can come loose, and in extreme situations, a bracket could come completely off your tooth. These are times that you would keep the fallen bracket in a safe place and take it with you to your orthodontic appointment.
Without a doubt, “How long do I have to wear my braces?” is the most common question we’re asked by patients. More so than cleaning tips and food restrictions, people want to know how long they’ll have to live with braces. It’s understandable. Braces are hard to brush and floss around, they come with food restrictions, and they can be a source of embarrassment for teens at school or professionals in the workplace.
While most patients are always eager to start treatment, they are even more eager to get those braces off. Even though each patient is given an estimated treatment time wearing braces when they start, patients always hope we can wave our magic wands and complete the process sooner.
It’s common for young children to put anything and everything into their mouths. This curiosity is normal, and unless it develops into bad habits that carry into later childhood, is beneficial to development. Habits like nail-biting, thumb sucking, using a pacifier excessively, and tongue thrusting as you swallow all have negative long-term effects on your oral health.
Thumb Sucking and Excessive Pacifier Use
Children are born with a natural sucking reflex, which is why they tend to gravitate towards thumb sucking or get attached to a pacifier as a self-soothing tool. This impulse disappears around the four-month mark, but most children keep the habit for much longer. This is natural, and most children end up growing out of any habitual thumb sucking or pacifier use by age four at the latest. Stopping this habit by age four is ideal, and usually results in no long-term orthodontic issues.
The pressure applied to teeth through the continuous sucking motion can cause issues with tooth positioning and the growth of the jaw bones. This can later manifest in an openbite, buck teeth, or underdeveloped lower jaw and chin.
Orthodontists usually recommend that children and parents work to break these habits on their own before treatment starts. If this proves ineffective, there are appliances that an orthodontist can install that make thumb sucking and self-soothing less pleasurable for the child.
Often the first step of orthodontic treatment is an expander. Expanders, or palatal expanders, are orthodontic appliances that increase the space between the halves of the upper jaw. While that sounds scary and painful, expanders are very common! Many young and growing orthodontic patients have expanders, and they can help make sure you don’t have to undergo surgery later!
Getting braces is a big change, and on top of the wires, brackets, or Invisalign trays, there’s a whole new set of habits you must get used to. Luckily, we’re here to help and answer any questions you may have during treatment! One of our most common questions from patients is “What can I eat with my braces?” or “What foods do I have to give up?” and we have a few simple guidelines to share. If you keep these in mind, your smile and diet will be happy and healthy!
Parents are usually well-versed in getting their child to the dentist early on. Establishing oral health routines for your toddlers is standard – but what about their first visit to the orthodontist? When should they go? Is my child too young for the orthodontist? Is my child too young for braces? Luckily, all these questions have simple answers. The best age for a first visit to the orthodontist is seven. And, once your orthodontist has performed an initial exam of your child’s mouth, they can accurately and expertly advise a treatment timeline.
Seven: The Lucky Number
Age seven is the magic number for a first orthodontist visit. This is because, at seven, your child’s first set of molars should have come in. This first set of molars erupts between ages six and seven and is the first set of permanent teeth your child will get. These teeth are in the lower jaw and do not replace any baby teeth.
The seven-year molars are a good indicator of future dental issues once they have fully grown in. This allows your orthodontist to get a more accurate picture of your child’s mouth and treatment plan than if they were seen before the molars grew in but give them enough time to address possible issues before it’s too late.