How to Handle Broken Braces: An Emergency Guide

September 12, 2023


Braces are an effective treatment for aligning your teeth, but they aren't invincible. Whether it's a broken wire or a loose bracket, dealing with broken braces can be both uncomfortable and alarming. 

Knowing how to manage such emergencies is crucial for avoiding further complications. 

This guide aims to provide parents and teens with immediate steps to take, common causes of broken braces, and tips for prevention. So let's dive in.

Types of Broken Braces Emergencies

The first thing to do when you notice something is wrong with your braces is to identify the type of issue you're dealing with. 

Not all broken braces emergencies are created equal, and each has its own level of urgency and approach for temporary relief. 

Here are some common types of broken braces emergencies:

1. Loose Brackets

The brackets are the square parts that are glued to each tooth and serve as an anchor for the braces. If you notice that a bracket is wiggling or has come off entirely, you're dealing with a loose bracket.

Initial Steps: Use orthodontic wax to hold the bracket in place temporarily until you can see your orthodontist.

2. Broken Wires

The metal wires connect the brackets and guide your teeth into position. A broken wire can poke into your cheeks or gums, causing discomfort or even injury.

Initial Steps: If possible, use tweezers to gently bend the wire away from the area where it's causing irritation. Apply orthodontic wax to the wire's end to minimize discomfort.

3. Detached Bands

Bands are the metal rings that are cemented around your back molars to provide additional support. If a band comes off, it's considered a detached band.

Initial Steps: Save the band and avoid trying to put it back yourself. Make an appointment with your orthodontist to have it professionally re-cemented.

4. Protruding Wires

Sometimes, a wire doesn't break but starts to protrude, poking the inside of your cheek, tongue, or gums.

Initial Steps: Use the eraser end of a pencil to carefully push the wire back into a less bothersome position. Apply orthodontic wax to the end to keep it in place.

5. Missing Ligatures

Ligatures are the tiny rubber bands or small, fine wires that hold the wire to the bracket. If they come off, they need to be replaced.

Initial Steps: If you can, place the ligature back on the bracket with sterilized tweezers. If it's broken or lost, a new one will need to be placed by your orthodontist.

Knowing the type of broken braces emergency you're experiencing will dictate your next steps. 

Always contact your orthodontist for professional advice, but these initial steps can offer temporary relief and minimize further issues.

Immediate Steps to Take

So, you've identified what type of broken braces emergency you're facing. The next question is, "What should I do now?" 

While it's crucial to consult your orthodontist for a professional evaluation, here are some immediate steps you can take to manage the situation:

1. Manage Discomfort

Broken braces can often be uncomfortable or even painful. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to alleviate some of the discomfort. If necessary, over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen can also help.

2. Temporary Fixes at Home

As we stated, not all broken braces are the same, hence, the temporary fixes for broken braces will differ depending on the situation. 

  • For Loose Brackets: Use orthodontic wax to secure the bracket temporarily. Place the wax over the bracket to hold it in place until you can get to your orthodontist.
  • For Protruding Wires: If the wire is sticking out and causing irritation, use a pencil eraser to gently push it back into a less intrusive position. Once it's repositioned, use orthodontic wax to keep it in place.
  • For Detached Bands: Keep the band in a safe place and avoid trying to reattach it yourself, as it needs to be cemented back in place by a professional.

3. Contact Your Orthodontist

Regardless of the type of emergency, it's crucial to contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. 

Describe the issue in detail so they can prioritize your appointment based on the severity of the situation. Keep in mind that some orthodontists offer emergency services for situations like this.

4. Avoid Certain Foods

While you're waiting to see your orthodontist, avoid eating hard or sticky foods that could exacerbate the problem. 

Opt for soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, or smoothies to minimize further damage to your braces.

5. Keep the Area Clean

Maintain good oral hygiene to prevent infection. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid vigorous brushing around the broken area.

Taking these immediate steps can provide some relief and prevent further complications. 

However, these are temporary measures, and professional treatment is essential for a proper and permanent fix. 

Make sure to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to address the issue effectively.

Common Causes of Broken Braces

If you find yourself dealing with broken braces more often than you'd like, it might be helpful to understand what's causing them to break in the first place. 

Knowing the common culprits can guide you in taking preventative measures. Here are some frequent reasons for broken braces:

1. Eating Hard or Sticky Foods

Foods like popcorn kernels, nuts, hard candies, and even ice can be detrimental to braces. These foods can easily cause brackets to loosen and wires to snap.

Stick to softer foods and cut items like apples or carrots into smaller pieces before eating.

2. Accidents or Injuries

Accidents such as falls, or getting hit in the face while playing sports, can cause significant damage to your braces.

Always wear a mouthguard during physical activities, especially contact sports, to protect your braces and teeth.

3. Normal Wear and Tear

Braces are durable, but they're not indestructible. Over time, the constant pressure exerted to move your teeth can lead to natural wear and tear.

Regular check-ups with your orthodontist can help identify weak spots or worn-out components that need replacement before they break.

4. Poor Oral Hygiene

Neglected oral care can lead to plaque build-up around the brackets and wires, which can corrode the metal components over time.

Maintain a robust oral hygiene routine, including regular flossing and brushing, to keep your braces in good condition.

5. Fiddling and Picking

Some people have a habit of fiddling with their braces, using objects like pencils or their fingers to poke or adjust them. This can weaken the brackets and wires, leading to breakages.

Be mindful of this habit and refrain from touching or playing with your braces.

By understanding these common causes, you can take proactive steps to minimize the risks of dealing with broken braces. 

Remember, prevention is better than cure, so being aware of these factors can save you a lot of trouble—and trips to the orthodontist—in the long run.


Dealing with broken braces can be stressful, but knowing how to handle such emergencies can make a world of difference. 

This guide has armed you with the essential steps to take when facing these common issues, the reasons they occur, and how to prevent them. But remember, these are only temporary solutions. 

For long-term treatment and to avoid any complications, it's crucial to consult a professional.

If you're looking for expert care, Wilde Ortho specializes in braces and Invisalign treatments. Our experienced team is always ready to help you with any braces-related emergencies or general orthodontic needs. 

Whether it's a loose bracket, a protruding wire, or you're considering getting Invisalign, we've got you covered. 

Prevention is better than cure, and regular check-ups can prevent many emergencies before they happen. 

So why take chances with your smile? Schedule an appointment with us today to ensure your path to a perfect smile is smooth and trouble-free.

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