Houston, We Have a Problem:
When something with your braces is just not quite right…
Your braces are a system made up of a lot of little parts that work together to make lots of little movements of your teeth. Since there are a lot of parts that move a lot, and they are attached to your mouth, which also moves a lot, it is likely that you might have some part of your braces that breaks, falls off, or just does something flat out weird that you can’t quite figure out.
Today, we are going to explore one of the different things that can go wrong while you have your braces, and what you should do if you encounter them. Some problems you might be able to fix on your own (or with a little help from mom and dad), but other problems might be a little more complex. For those, you will definitely want to ask your orthodontist for a helping hand.
You wake up one morning, or are going about your day, and all of a sudden you start to get the feeling that something is scratching at the back of the inside of your cheek, or when you talk, you feel as though your cheek is getting caught on something sharp. Surprise! You have what orthodontic offices like to call a wire poke. Probably the most common problem seen with braces, this issue is most often seen in the early stages of treatment as space between teeth is closing the quickest at this time. Naturally, as the space between your teeth closes up, the wire has to go somewhere, and often, it has nowhere else to go but out of the brackets on your very back teeth, making for an uncomfortable situation for you!
You can tell if you have a wire poke a lot of times just by how it feels, but if you are not sure, you can pull you cheek back and look in your bathroom mirror at your back brackets. You might just see a tiny piece of wire hanging out back there. If its too dark to see exactly what is going on back there, you can use a flashlight (like the one on your phone) or recruit a parent to help you take a look.
Once you determine that you have a wire poke, it is then time to determine how to go about getting it fixed. Sometimes, a wire poke can be fixed at home with no extra trip to the orthodontist required. If you are recently in braces, your first wires are really thin and flexible, which means a simple nail clipper can sometimes do the trick. Simply slide the nail clipper back towards the offending piece of wire, holding your cheek back and out away from the brackets and snip that piece of wire as close to the bracket as you can. Kiddos, recruit the help of your parents for this one! If it is too far back to reach with the nail clipper, you can clip the wire up closer to the front where it is easier to see and get to until you can get into your orthodontist for a permanent fix. Your orthodontist can always replace a wire, but your comfort should come first.
If you are unable to fix the problem at home, call your orthodontist to see about making an appointment. Until you can get into your orthodontist, you can use wax to cushion the wire. Make sure to get the area as dry as possible (a paper towel works great for this), roll a pea-sized piece of wax into a ball, and press the wax firmly on the sharp piece of wire. This should make you a lot more comfortable until your orthodontist can get you in for a wire clip.
Remember, while a wire poke might be uncomfortable, it is easily fixed and no reason to panic. Take a deep breath, follow the steps above, and see about getting into your orthodontist.