Solutions to Common Problems


Our orthodontic team at Champlain Orthodontics takes your comfort very seriously.  Please use the information on this page to learn how to treat minor emergencies at home so you can eliminate extra trips to the office.


It's normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment — that shows they're moving! Sometimes, this movement may be accompanied by tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water, and rinse for 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.

Your mouth and teeth may feel tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water mouthwash. Dissolve 5 ml (1 tsp) of salt in 250 ml (1 cup) of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously.  Ibuprofen (Advil®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) may be taken if treatment is needed for the pain.



Brackets may come loose, particularly at the beginning as you are getting used to them. The most common cause is trying to eat hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces

A broken bracket is not an urgent problem. Generally, the bracket remains attached to the wire, but it may slide or rotate on the wire. Orthodontic wax may be applied to the broken bracket to lessen the irritation to the inside of the mouth. If the loose bracket is the last one in the back of your mouth, it may slide off the back of the archwire and you can remove it yourself (please save it and bring to your next appointment). The wire then may be too long and if it pokes your cheek, you could try snipping it off with nail clippers or a small pair of wire cutters. Make sure you clean them after you’ve taken them out of the tool box and before you put them in your mouth!

If a bracket comes loose, but is not bothering you, phone our office to let us know. We will make sure we have adequate time at your next regular appointment to repair it. A loose bracket or band does not require an emergency visit to the office.


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Brace bands can come loose when chewing on or eating sticky foods. Fortunately, we hardly ever use bands unless we need them in the case of using expanders or habit breakers.  If bands become loose, please keep your regular appointment and inform one of the doctors or staff members about the issue.


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Occasionally, the wire in braces can stick out and irritate cheeks. Before leaving our offices, make sure the wires are not irritating you. If they are, let a staff member know. If the irritation starts later, push the wire back inside of the molar tube by using a pencil eraser or a cotton swab. You can also place a ball of wax on the wire as a temporary relief. You can also use clean nail clippers cleaned with rubbing alcohol and cut the wire yourself.  If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.  If you are unable to resolve the issue, and the wire keeps bothering you, please contact us.


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Occasionally during treatment, the wire could completely come out of the tube. If this happens, try to push it back into the tube with your hands or tweezers. If you are unable to, you may use clean nail clippers to cut the wire and remove any loose pieces. If you are unsuccessful, and the wire continues to bother you, give us a call.


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We sometimes use steel ligatures to ligate the wire to the teeth. Occasionally, eating hard food may dislodge the ends of the steel ligature and irritate lips and cheeks. To fix this problem, you can use the end of a pencil eraser to push the end of the steel tie back into place. You may also use wax to cover the ends to keep the wire from irritating your cheeks.


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If you notice that one of your elastic ties from around the bracket is missing, do not be alarmed as this is not an emergency. Keep your regular scheduled appointment and we will replace the ties when you come in.


If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the part that is bothering you, until you are able to contact us for an appointment to have it examined and repaired.


Your teeth may become sore after your braces are installed. The soreness usually lasts for about a week. If you experience discomfort, eat a diet of soft foods and take Tylenol or Advil to reduce any soreness. It can also be helpful to chew sugarless gum. Chewing may be uncomfortable, but it will increase the blood flow to the teeth to reduce discomfort. As time goes on, when the teeth start shifting into their new positions, they may become slightly loosened. Do not be alarmed by this, as it is perfectly normal. The looseness will correct itself when the braces are removed.

Cheek and lip irritation may last up to two weeks following initial placement of braces. You may apply wax to the offending brackets or wires to smooth the area. Over time, the cheeks and lips will adjust.


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It is normal to experience some small sores or ulcerations on the inside of your lips or cheeks at the beginning of treatment. Your mouth needs to get used to the braces, and within a week, those ulcerations will begin to disappear on their own. If you find that they continue to be irritating you longer, let us know. You may use wax to cover the edges of the hooks on the brackets that may be causing those ulcers. Make sure that you keep the area clean and give yourself some time to adjust to your new braces.