A close up image of an orthodontic bracket, a wire, and an o-ring on a tooth

How To Manage a Loose Bracket Or Wire

How To Manage a Loose Bracket Or Wire

Oops! I Lost a Bracket! What Do I Do?

4 min read

There are a few patients what will experience this unfortunate occurrence, but by no means is it unusual. The best thing is to avoid the experience entirely by following the suggestions made at your consultation and the various lists given to you in the office literature or online. Knowing some of the common reasons for breakage is helpful, and as a reminder, a listing of these is as follows:

  • Eating hard, crunchy foods (ex. cough drops, ice cubes, etc.)
  • Eating dense foods (ex. Bagels, tootsie rolls, apples, etc.)
  • Eating chewy foods (ex. taffy, gummy bears, etc.)
  • Trauma to the mouth (wearing a mouthguard during most sporting activities is always strongly suggested)
  • Bad habits (like chewing pens and pencils, fingernail chewing, etc.)
  • Questionable oral hygiene habits (flowing with certain flossing instruments or hitting a bracket with the hard plastic of an operating ultrasonic or manual toothbrush)
  • Biting down hard directly on one or more of the braces as your bite changes during treatment
  • Poor bonding of the bracket to the tooth due to saliva contamination during the bonding process or poor/disrupted enamel formation during tooth development

*An important note: if the bracket comes off within a couple days following placement, it is frequently due to the last reason mentioned above. If it comes off beyond that time, it is important to now HOW it came off as it is usually due to eating something you should have been more careful with or perhaps your bite has changed. Brackets do not just “fall off” without some force or impetus causing them to come off the tooth, so let it be a learning experience to be avoided in the future. It will help to get you through the braces experience more quickly!

Steps To Follow When You Have Lost A Bracket

  • Call the office to schedule a repair and indicate which bracket came off. You may be given verbal instructions to follow to get your teeth to feel more comfortable.
  • Use wax over the loose bracket or the end of the wire that may be poking you to avoid further irritation. If wax is not available, carefully chew some SUGARLESS gum and place the chewed gum over the sharp irritating object.
    A picture of a boy standing in front of tons of different gumball machines and trying to make a decision on what kind of candy he wants
    Cannot find any wax?
    Find a piece of chewing gum instead and place it over the sharp bracket or wire in your mouth.
  • If the wire is poking you, use a small eraser on the end of a pencil and bend the wire to a position closer to the gum tissue and away from the cheek. In some cases, certain wires cannot be bent easily and you may be instructed to cut the wire behind the last fixed bracket using a fingernail cutter, being careful to remove the end that was cut off. Using a cotton roll behind the end of the wire being cut will prevent the cut end from flying off within the mouth! Please bring the pieces with you so the office can account for the lost appliance pieces.
    An assortment of yellow number 2 pencils with the camera focused on the pencil eraser
    The eraser at the end on a pencil can be used to bed wires away
    form the areas that are poking your cheek or mouth
  • If the breakage is nearer the front of the mouth and the wire is rotating about the wire, you may be given instructions on how to remove the bracket if held in place by an elastic O-ring. Using a sharp, pointed toothpick or a short safety pin, the O-ring can be slid off the four corner wings of the bracket while the bracket is stabilized against the tooth. Once the O-ring is removed, the bracket can slide forward along the wire to a point midway between the teeth. At this position, the bracket can be rotated 180 degrees where it will be free to be removed. You may bring it with you to your repair appointment.
  • Rinse with warm salt solution to help the healing process if ulceration of the tissues has occurred. A teaspoon of salt or 8 oz of water should help. Some over-the-counter medications with a topical anesthetic can also render some relief.
A small red stop sign with a beautiful backcountry background
Stop! These tips are only to only be done with your doctor's supervision

*** Please note, this should be done only at the expressed advice of your orthodontist and we take no responsibility for offering this suggestion as a potential solution. Any inadvertent injury or incident as a result of using this suggestion without the expressed consent of your doctor is your responsibility alone.

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