What to Do When Your Braces Wire Breaks
You’re in the midst of orthodontic treatment to align your teeth and correct your bite, you may have just started treatment or mere months away from a stunning new smile. But what should you do if your braces wire breaks unexpectedly?
Don’t panic, first of all! This happens periodically, and there’s a number of simple things you can do about it. Read on for the lowdown on what to do when your wire bracket breaks.
What is an orthodontic wire?
Orthodontic wire – also known as archwire – is the component of your braces that guides your teeth into the ideal position. It’s the archwire itself that exerts a gentle yet steady pressure on your teeth. As your teeth slowly straighten with braces treatment, you’ll require regular orthodontic appointments to have your archwires adjusted or changed to a different material or different thickness. Without regular adjustments, the archwires on your braces will stop working and the teeth will not move to their desired position.
Different types of wires for braces
Orthodontic archwires are made from three key alloys, each with a different thickness and size. These materials include:
- Nickel-Titanium (Ni-Ti). This type of alloy is both gentle and elastic, making them a good choice for the first few months of braces treatment. These wires are the most likely to break accidentally if they are subjected to biting forces.
- Stainless steel. Stainless steel wires are strong and, and low in friction, making them a popular choice with orthodontists over the years. They can also be manipulated easily without snapping. Stainless steel wires are often used as “working archwires” as teeth can slide efficiently on these low friction wires.
- Beta-Titanium. Beta-Titanium archwires have the advantage of being both moderately strong and elastic, serving as a halfway point between the other two materials. In the end, your orthodontist will select the type of braces wire or wires that they prefer.
How often should braces wire be changed?
You should generally have your braces adjusted or tightened every 4-10 weeks. Every patient is different, however, so your orthodontist will tailor your braces treatment to your individual needs. There’s no exact adjustment time that will suit everyone.
Common orthodontic wire weaknesses and issues
Have you got an issue with your archwires? Here’s what to do next.
- Braces wire came out. Don’t panic – this happens sometimes. If the broken wire is poking you and causing discomfort, and you are not able to see your orthodontist, you can try to tuck the wire back into the bracket or tube. If that’s not possible, then you can use nail scissors or nail clippers to remove the excess piece of wire. Make sure your cheeks, lips and gum are not in the way! Then cushion the sharp edge with dental wax to protect your mouth and gums. But be sure to book in with your orthodontist as soon as they are available so it can be fixed.
- Braces were shifted to one side. If possible, try and re-centre the archwire. If this isn’t achievable, use dental wax to pad the poking wire, or try snipping it off in the method above.
- Braces wire poking cheek. Again, try to reposition the wire into the correct position, or use nail clippers or scissors to trim the offending wire, then pile on the dental wax.
- Braces wire in your gum, throat or stomach. Here’s where things get a bit more serious. If you ingest a small piece of the archwire, will likely pass through your digestive system safely, However, if you inhale a piece of wire, or ingest a large piece of wire, it may be best to see your GP or the Emergency Department for management. 1% of the time this ingested wire can lead to serious medical complications such as gastrointestinal perforation. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Can you fix the braces wire at home?
As we mentioned above – you can do things to help with the discomfort but it is still best to book in with your orthodontist immediately. If your broken archwire is causing you grief in the meantime, follow the steps we’ve outlined above.
It is best to book in with your orthodontist immediately. If you broke your archwire and is causing you grief, you can use dental wax in the meantime.
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