What to Do When Your Brackets Break

Braces help millions of Americans — kids, teens, and adults — enjoy beautiful, more confident smiles, along with better oral health. As sturdy and durable as today’s braces may be, that doesn’t mean problems can’t happen, and broken brackets are one of the more common orthodontic issues patients face.

At Freedom Orthodontics, Brendan D. Smith, DDS, MS, and our team help patients of all ages in Cedar Park, Texas, get the care they need to keep their treatment on track — and that includes fixing broken brackets and wires. But what if you can’t get to our office right away? No problem. There are steps you can take to protect your smile until your broken bracket can be fixed. Here’s what to do.

What are brackets for?

Brackets are the metal parts that are bonded securely to your teeth using a very strong dental adhesive, but sometimes they can break. Most bracket damage occurs after eating foods that are hard, sticky, or chewy, or when biting on non-food objects, like using your teeth to open a package (never a good idea). 

Other times, you might get an object lodged in a bracket or the bracket might be damaged when playing sports. No matter what causes your bracket to break, you need to have it professionally fixed as soon as possible to keep your treatment on track.

Brackets attach to the wires of your braces. The brackets and wires exert gentle pressure on your teeth, all the way down to the roots. This pressure helps your teeth move into their proper positions over time. When a bracket is broken, the pressure is “interrupted,” and your treatment won’t progress the way it’s supposed to. Plus, sometimes a broken bracket can cause irritation on the inside of your lips — another good reason to have it fixed promptly.

What to do when a bracket breaks

The first thing to do if you break a bracket is call our office and schedule an emergency repair. In most cases, during regular office hours, we’ll be able to fit you in quickly. If it’s after hours, you should still call, but you can also try the following tips to protect your teeth until you can have the bracket repaired.

After calling our office, take a look to see if the braces wire is still attached to the broken bracket. If the wire is completely loose, you may be able to gently remove the bracket so it can’t cause sore spots. Once the bracket is removed, store it in a small container or a plastic bag and bring it with you to our office. 

If the broken bracelet is still attached to the wire, don’t try to remove it. Instead, use a cotton swab to reposition the bracket on your tooth surface. Apply a bit of dental wax to the bracket to help hold it in place. Only use a cotton swab to reposition your bracket once it’s broken — anything sharp or pointy might damage your gums and cause other problems.

Sometimes, instead of slipping out of the broken bracket, the wire can break too. In that case, use the swab (or a clean pencil eraser) to gently push the end of the wire inward toward your tooth, into a position where it won’t cut or scrape your cheeks or gums. Then cover the end of the wire with dental wax for extra protection. Don’t try to trim the wire or you might wind up swallowing the tiny piece that’s cut off.

State-of-the-art care for beautiful results

Broken brackets can be easily fixed with a trip to our office. If you’ve got a broken bracket, loose wire, or other problem with your braces — or if you’d like to learn more about how braces can transform your smile — call our office or request an appointment online today.

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