Emergency Care: Loose or Scratching Hook

What to do when your elastics hook is acting up.

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When you start to wear elastics, you will might have new parts added to your brackets that allow you to wear your elastics. These parts look almost like tiny rods that the assistant will slide up through your bracket. The rods (often referred to as “drop-ins,” “posts” or “hooks”) have wire ends that fold over your bracket to hold it in place, ensuring you can wear your elastics with ease. Once you start wearing your elastics, this puts some tension on those posts and can sometimes cause them to start to wiggle loose. If this happens, you might notice that you have a slightly scratchy sensation near the bracket with the post. The good news is, this problem you can easily fix at home!

First, examine the bracket using your mirror. You might have to get close, but you should be able to see the offending wire end sticking up from the top of the bracket. Once you locate the problem, its simply a matter of pushing that little piece of wire back down into the bracket. You have a few options as to how you can do this. One option is to fix it using tweezers. Squeeze the tweezers to where they are closed and use the pointed end to push the wire end back down towards the bracket. This should only take a couple of tries. Other fine-ended hard objects can be used for this too. Just make sure what you are using is clean and not too sharp! If you do not have tweezers or do not feel comfortable using hard objects, you can also use the same technique with a pencil eraser to push the wire back into place.

If the wire end still does not want to go back down, orthodontic wax can be used to cushion your lip or cheek from the rough spot until your next regularly scheduled appointment. To ensure maximum effectiveness of orthodontic wax, be sure to get the area dry first. Paper towel works well at getting an area dry enough for wax to stick.

While an elastic hook coming loose might be irritating, it is not an orthodontic emergency, so there is no need to worry or rush to the orthodontist’s office. Just follow the steps above, and you will have the problem fixed on your own in minutes.

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