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We are all facing unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’ve been unable to see your orthodontist for regular appointments during this time, you may be wondering how a delay may affect your treatment and whether or not it could harm your teeth.

For many patients, a longer span between appointments should not have any adverse effects on your teeth other than possibly increasing the total treatment time. However, we want to answer some common questions and provide some helpful information on how to best care for your braces during this time:

What should I do if something is bent or broken?

While the majority of orthodontic appliances won’t lead to any serious issues, a broken brace or wire can be annoying and sometimes painful. Applying an orthodontic wax can help to reduce irritation. If you are out of wax, it can easily be purchased online or in a pharmacy. If there is severe pain, bleeding, or discomfort, please schedule an emergency appointment.  

Depending on how long it is until the broken piece can be repaired, it may cause some delays in the time that your braces can come off. Please follow your list of food restrictions to minimize the chance of broken braces or wires.  

Should I continue to wear my elastics (rubber bands)?

Please continue wearing your elastics as you have been instructed by your orthodontist. While it’s typically okay to keep wearing the elastics as instructed, the longer the period of time before a regular appointment can be made can lead to the chance of some overcorrection.  

Overcorrection, in mild cases, will not cause any problems. However, if you run out of elastics, there is no reason to worry. Please do not use household rubber bands or purchase any online as different elastics have different sizes and force levels; wearing the wrong ones may cause adverse effects.  

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What should I do if I have an expander?

If you currently have an expander in your mouth, it’s important to stop turning! All expanders must remain in your mouth for around 4 months after they’ve been turned so keeping it in will function as a great retainer. Please call your orthodontist office if your expander is broken or causing any pain.

Other Helpful Information

It’s important to continue to keep up with your brushing, flossing, and dental care routine. Poor daily care can cause a build-up of plaque that leads to inflammation and gum disease.

Please call your orthodontist if you are experiencing an emergency that requires immediate care, which could include any of the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Severe pain
  • Infection
  • Swelling