What to do when I have an orthodontic wire sticking out and poking the gums?
Dental emergency - what to do if your orthodontic wire is poking the gums and making it sore
Orthodontic braces can be uncomfortable, especially if a wire is sticking out and poking the soft tissues of the mouth. This problem is not uncommon. As teeth shift or as a patient eats, a wire can bend or pull out of one side of a bracket. It is not a dental emergency, but it is one problem patients will want to address quickly before it throws off the treatment schedule or the wire becomes even more uncomfortable.
What causes a loose orthodontic wire?
A few common factors that cause a loose orthodontic wire include:
• Poor habits like chewing ice or pen caps
• Improper dental hygiene practices
• Consuming the wrong foods
• Rough use of a toothpick
• Movement of the teeth
• A broken bracket
• Oral injuries
What to do about an orthodontic wire sticking out?
Even if a loose wire is not painful, it is important for the patient to call their orthodontist right away. If not promptly corrected, a loose or broken orthodontic wire can set treatment back by weeks. An orthodontist can provide patients with advice on how to maneuver the wire, relieve discomfort, and schedule an appointment for a real fix. The orthodontist can then put it back where it belongs or replace it with a new one if necessary.
Tips for dealing with a loose wire while you wait for an appointment
If a patient is unable to see the orthodontist for treatment right away, there are a few options to help either reposition the wire or ease discomfort. These tips include:
Using some wax
The simplest and least invasive way to treat a bent or loose wire is with dental wax. Patients can roll a small piece of wax into a ball and secure it over the portion of the wire that is poking out. That will help relieve the pain without compromising the braces in any way.
Doing a manual fix
In some cases, a wire will simply bow out instead of break free from the brackets. In these cases, patients can use a finger or a pencil eraser to press on the wire and gently push it back in place.
Sliding the wire back in place
If a wire has come out of a back bracket the patient might be able to slide it back into place with disinfected tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Using a magnifying mirror they can grab the wire and try to slide the loose end back through the bracket.
Bending the end of the wire
If the back of the wire is protruding and the patient cannot maneuver it back in the bracket, they can try bending it out of the way. It is important to use a blunted toothpick or even the head of an eraser so patients do not damage teeth with metal objects. It is also important to work slowly so the wire doesn’t snap off in an even more inconvenient position.
Cutting the wire
As a last resort, patients can clip off the end of the loose wire. It would be helpful to find someone with a steady hand. And the patient should be sure to use distal end wire cutters so the cut piece doesn’t accidentally fall into the mouth.