To begin with, wed like to wish everyone a happy fall. With school starting back up for most of our patients, we bring an end to a very enjoyable summer here at L&M. Dr. Lee and I both placed a lot of braces over the last few months and as always, enjoy the time with our patients. For all of our patients, parents and friends of patients that are on their orthodontic journey with us, wed like to discuss what to do when something comes loose, or breaks on your braces.
Although we do bond the braces to the teeth, the dental adhesive we use is temporary cement, and things can come loose. Very little in orthodontics can be considered a true dental emergency, and most of the time a brace just comes loose and slides along the wire. In other cases, a wire can poke out and bother the surrounding tissues. Most of these problems can be taken care of with wax and left until your next appointment, but we still would like you to call the office to let us know any problem that might arise.
Here youre all probably saying, Dr. Sam, we arent orthodontists. We have no idea what all these buttons and wires and rubber bands are called. How are we supposed to know what is broken? So, I devised a little Orthodontics101 for our patients and parents so that you all can better communicate to our staff what your orthodontic emergency may be:
Parts of Braces:
Bracket A bracket, or brace, is the individual piece affixed to all the teeth but the molars. The wire goes through the brackets, and is held into them using the colored ties.
Band A band is a metal band that fits completely around a tooth. Usually these are just used on your back teeth (the molars).
Archwire The archwire is an important part of the braces. Along with the brackets, the wire guides the teeth into position. The wire may be moved from time to time during treatmentient.
Elastic Tie Elastic ties are the very small rubber bands that hold the archwire into the brackets. They are the colors on the braces, and get changed every appointment.
Power Chain Powerchain is basically a group of elastic ties which are connected together. This is used to close the spaces between teeth.
Coil Spring Coil spring is a small spring that fits between brackets and sits around ehe archwire. Its purpose is to open up the space between the teeth. This is not necessarily used on all patients.
Steel Tie A steel tie is another piece of equipment that is used to keep the archwire in the brackets. It is a thin wire that wraps around the bracket. The end of this wire is twisted together and is called a pig tail.
Elastic Hook This little ball or hook is attached to some of the brackets, and is used to attach the elastics to the bracket.
Elastic Elastics are tiny rubber bands used to connect one part of the braces to another. While the braces straighten the teeth, the elastics help to relate the upper and lower jaws to one another. Although most do, not all patients need elastics. Additionally mot all elastics are worn as in the picture illustration in this blog, so DO NOT assume that this is how yours should be worn. We will instruct you at the appointment on the correct rubber band wear.
So now you are all honorary orthodontic technicians. Although it may seem like it doesn’t matter what is broken, it does help us out a lot when we know ahead of time. A long wire poking takes a minute to correct. A broken bracket can take 15-30 minutes to fix. Knowing ahead of time helps us to plan better in our schedule when we are squeezing emergencies in. I hope you find this info helpful. I know we will when scheduling appointments for you and your kids.