Orthodontic Emergencies While Traveling

After the first few weeks of orthodontic treatment it’s usually smooth sailing. So there’s really no need to worry about traveling while wearing braces.

Although rare, there are situations where getting orthodontic emergency care as soon as possible is a must.  There’s no need to be reluctant — just about every country in the world has outstanding and easy-to-find healthcare practitioners.  And wherever you are you can always contact us for advice.  We’ll have your dental records handy, but please be understanding when it comes to time-zone differences.

There are some common orthodontic emergencies we’ll cover below that you can take care of yourself, at least until you can get back home.


It’s a good idea to call our office and schedule an appointment 2 to 4 weeks before your departure so we can make sure that everything is as it should be, minimizing the likelihood of needing orthodontic emergency care.  It can probably double as one of your follow-ups.  Then take our phone number with you. Next, with the excitement of vacation travel it’s easy to neglect oral hygiene.  Don’t!  There’s no reason to risk this valuable time on pain and problems.

You can also anticipate issues and pack a few small and lightweight items, just in case.  A basic kit might be: a proxy brush, an orabase-B, floss and threaders, nail clippers, rubber bands, tweezers, Tylenol or Ibuprofen, and orthodontic wax.  You may also want to do a web search in advance for an orthodontist in any area you’ll be staying more than a few days that might not have good cell phone and internet coverage.

Quick Repairs on the Road

Here are a few quick temporary fixes to some common orthodontic emergencies that might take care of a problem until you can get back home.

  • Bracket or Ligature Band Comes Off — Try putting them back with tweezers.
  • Loose Appliance — Use wax to keep it together
  • Loose Bracket or Band — Leave it as it is and see if orthodontic wax relieves the irritation.
  • Loose Wire — Try putting it back with a pair of tweezers.  If that doesn’t to it and it’s really inconvenient to get to a local orthodontist use nail clippers to trim the wire after the last tooth it’s attached to, and use wax for any irritation.
  • Poking wire — Try pushing it down with an eraser or Q-tip, then use some wax.
  • Sore Teeth — Warm salt water rinses and Tylenol or Ibuprofen remain your first-line defenses.

When wax isn’t enough you may want to try sugarless gum, gauze, cotton, or even silicone ear plugs.  And don’t forget that floss and proximal brush if food becomes caught. If that oral hygiene takes you away from the fun, it’s only a few minutes.

You Need to Find an Orthodontist When….

While wearing braces any chipped, broken, or loose tooth is much more serious.  So seek out an orthodontic emergency specialist as soon as possible if you have any accident or injury affecting your mouth.  The same goes for any infection or swelling of your gums, mouth, or face.  We experience pain for a reason, so also see out medical attention right away if you experience serious pain that doesn’t go away after a couple of days or isn’t relieved by over-the-counter remedies.  Finally, if a wire or other component come out completely, save them and see an orthodontist.

Finding that Orthodontist in Other Countries

If you need orthodontic emergency care in Europe you can reach the American Dental Society of Europe at www.adse.co.uk.  For orthodontic emergencies elsewhere “overseas” you can contact the International Association For Medical Assistance To Travelers at https://www.iamat.org/contact.  In extreme or difficult situations you can contact the nearest American Embassy.

For severe pain, infection, or bleeding it’s often best to visit a hospital’s emergency room; most are equipped for dental emergencies.

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