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Orthodontic Emergency Care

April 6th, 2022

Although major orthodontic emergencies are relatively rare, when they do happen it is important to seek immediate attention. By comparison, a minor orthodontic issue is something you can usually take care of yourself, or wait until your next scheduled appointment for care. Here are some guidelines to help you understand the difference between an orthodontic emergency and a minor issue.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Acute, Direct Injury to the Mouth, Jaw, or Teeth

Whether undergoing orthodontic care or not, if you injure your mouth, jaw, or teeth, you should see a doctor or dentist immediately. You may need an X-ray to determine the extent of your injury. If the injury affects the orthodontic appliances, they will need adjustment or possibly replacement, depending upon the extent of the injury.

Infected Teeth

It is possible for teeth to become infected following orthodontic treatment. This may or may not be related to your orthodontic appliances. If you experience pain or swelling around a tooth that gets progressively worse, seek professional care as soon as possible.

Minor Orthodontic Issues

While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, minor issues are much more common. Here are some examples of minor orthodontic issues that can be remedied on your own and/or fixed at your next office visit:

  • Poking wire
  • Loose bracket
  • Loose elastic band
  • Loose wire
  • Loose appliance
  • Headgear does not fit
  • Lost or broken elastic band
  • General soreness

Any of the above issues can happen as a result of normal usage, shifting, and wear of your braces. Eating unusually hard or sticky foods can cause or exacerbate these problems. Vigorous brushing of the teeth can also be a factor. None of these issues are emergencies unless they are accompanied by acute or prolonged pain or discomfort.

As for on-the-spot remedies, covering a loose bracket or wire with wax can be a quick fix to alleviate discomfort until your next orthodontist visit. Poking or protruding wires can be moved with a cotton swab or tweezers, or clipped down with nail clippers. Be sure to sterilize the tweezers or clippers in alcohol first. Cover any clipped wire ends with a small ball of wax.

Some soreness or small abrasions in the mouth are normal, especially with recent orthodontic work. Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution comprised of eight ounces or warm water and one teaspoon of salt.

When in doubt, be sure to contact our Visalia, CA office with any questions, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard E. Dunn at Richard E. Dunn, DDS, MS.

What role do elastics (rubber bands) play in orthodontics?

March 30th, 2022

Wearing orthodontic braces may be the best choice for correcting your teeth and improving your smile, and that's why you've come to see Dr. Richard E. Dunn at Richard E. Dunn, DDS, MS. Braces, which consist of brackets and wires, work by gently applying pressure to the teeth, and that pressure causes them to move into the correct position. In some cases elastics, or rubber bands, are used to apply additional pressure needed to move your teeth.

The Purpose of Elastics

Customized for each patient, the rubber bands typically stretch over tiny loops on the top and bottom brackets. If worn consistently, and every day, these tiny elastics will apply the steady pressure needed to guide your teeth into the correct position.

These elastics are crafted from medical-grade latex, which is safe to be in contact with your mouth. It's common to remove the elastics during meals if opening your mouth wide enough to eat is difficult. Our staff will demonstrate how to affix the elastics so it will soon become second nature to replace them.

The Do’s and the Don'ts

DO - Get in the habit of carrying around extra rubber bands and replace them as soon as one breaks. By consistently wearing the elastics, you may shorten the overall time needed to wear braces.

DON'T - Double up on elastics as this will cause too much pressure on the tooth or teeth and can actually harm the root of the tooth.

DO - Always wash your hands before removing or replacing the rubber bands.

DON'T - Overstretch the rubber band or it will lose its strength and it will be ineffective.

DO - Call us if you run out of rubber bands.

DO - Have fun with your braces and elastics. There are many different colors available that can let you show off your soon-to-be perfect smile.

Rubber bands are a key part of your orthodontic treatment, and learning how to remove and replace them is an important part to maintaining your braces. Before we set you on your journey to a perfect smile, we'll make sure you understand all there is to know about how to take care of your braces. Of course, if you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, or orthodontics in general, be sure to contact our Visalia, CA office, and our staff will be happy to assist you!

Speech! Speech!

March 23rd, 2022

If you are a student of Speech or Drama, you know how important it is to be clear and articulate. You’ve worked on pronunciation and projection, and the audience in the back row can understand every word.

And now you’ve gotten braces, and, suddenly, you don’t sound quite like yourself. Why? And, more important, what can you do?

  • Don’t Panic!

Many patients see no change at all in their speech after getting braces. With some orthodontic conditions or appliances, you might have problems pronouncing certain sounds, but these changes in articulation are usually quite temporary. 

  • Why Are You Sounding Off?

Every consonant is formed in a precise way as tongue, lips, and teeth work together. If you have brackets and wires in the way, or just got a new retainer, or have a set of aligners, you might find that your articulation is a little off, especially for sibilant sounds such as S’s and Z’s. Luckily, we humans are a flexible bunch, and it usually takes a very short time for our tongues and mouths to adapt to orthodontic appliances and return to normal pronunciation.

If your speech is affected at first because your lips and cheeks are sore or sensitive after getting braces, take time to take care of yourself! Use wax as often as needed to cover irritating brackets and wires, eat foods that are low in salt, spice, and acids, and follow your orthodontist’s instructions for taking care of your mouth. You should start feeling better within a few days, and should be fine after a week or two. If pain or discomfort persists, call your orthodontist.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to speed along the process of getting back to your normal pronunciation habits, practice! Read aloud, sing along to your favorite songs, recite lists of words with the specific sounds you want to work on. Oddly enough, to get back to your normal speech more quickly, slow down. Thinking before you speak is never a bad idea, and, in this case, thinking while you speak can help you position your tongue and mouth to verbalize tricky sounds more easily.

You don’t have to be a national debate champion or the world’s most blood-curdling Lady Macbeth to be concerned about clear speech. Talk to Dr. Richard E. Dunn during your next appointment at our Visalia, CA office if you find you are having problems with pronunciation. Whether your appliance needs an adjustment, or you need a few suggestions for speech exercises, or it’s simply a matter of time, soon you’ll be back on the road to perfect pronunciation—and on the way to your perfect smile.

A Helpful Site on Orthodontics

March 16th, 2022

As you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, our team at Richard E. Dunn, DDS, MS would like to point you to a helpful website. Our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have lots of important information about everything relating to braces, including myths and facts of orthodontics, tips for a better orthodontic experience, and cool webisodes about orthodontics.

Check out AAO today and feel free to contact us at our Visalia, CA office if you have any questions.

Dr. Richard E. Dunn and our team at Richard E. Dunn, DDS, MS hope this information helps you!

Richard E. Dunn, DDS, MS (559) 625-3030
101 W. Tulare Ave
Visalia, CA 93277