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Dental appliance problems

From time-to-time complications can arise with dental appliances.

Braces and retainers

  • You may have some discomfort for three to five days after having braces or a retainer fitted. During this time it may be uncomfortable to eat, so try to eat soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow.
  • If you break or lose any part of your brace, contact your orthodontist for advice.
  • If sharp points and edges on braces are causing problems in your mouth, or cutting into your cheeks, they should be covered in orthodontic wax, which is sold in some pharmacies, while you wait to see your dentist or orthodontist.
  • If you can’t get hold of any orthodontic wax, you can use the wax coating on some cheeses as a temporary measure.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day, including once before you go to bed. Use a soft toothbrush if your mouth is sore.
  • If your brace is causing sores in your mouth, warm salt water may help. Mix one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water, then take a mouthful of the liquid and hold it in your mouth so it covers your affected tooth for two minutes, then spit it out. Do not swallow it. Repeat four times a day.
  • Salt water should not be given to children because they may accidentally swallow it, which could make them sick.
  • If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.

Cracked tooth

A cracked tooth may cause pain and sensitivity, but there are a number of things that you can do to help yourself:

  • If the tooth is broken, you may be able to have it repaired by your dentist. This is not always possible, and your dentist may choose to repair the tooth using a filling instead.
  • If a large fragment of a tooth has come away, place it in liquid immediately – either milk or sterile saline solution (available from your local pharmacy). Do not put your tooth fragment in water as this can damage the tooth’s delicate cells.
  • Eat foods that are soft and easy to chew after your tooth has been repaired.
  • Avoid drinks that are very hot or very cold.
  • Your teeth may feel sensitive after you have cracked your tooth, and you may prefer to drink through a straw for a few days until the sensitivity eases.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day, including once before you go to bed. Use a soft toothbrush if your mouth is sore.
  • You may find a toothpaste for sensitive teeth helpful.
  • If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.

Dental crowns, caps or bridges

Dental crowns, caps and bridges are used to repair and prevent damage to your teeth, but it can be common for them to break away or become loose. If this happens, here is some advice on what to do:

  • Eat foods that are easy to chew and swallow.
  • Avoid drinks that are either too hot or too cold. Consider drinking through a straw to avoid contact with the mouth.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day, including once before you go to bed. Use a soft toothbrush if your mouth is sore.
  • If you are in pain, get advice pain relief medicines you can take.
  • If you smoke, try to cut down or quit.

Fillings

Fillings are used to fill holes in teeth that are created by tooth decay, but they can sometimes break away from your teeth, particularly if you’ve eaten hard or chewy food. If this happens, you will need to see a dentist soon. In the meantime:

  • Eat foods that are easy to chew and swallow.
  • Avoid drinks that are either too hot or too cold – you could drink through a straw to avoid contact with the mouth.
  • Try not to bite down or eat with the affected tooth.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day, including once before you go to bed - use a soft toothbrush if your mouth is sore.
  • If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.
  • If you smoke, try to cut down or quit.

Dentures

Dentures are used to replace teeth that have fallen out or been removed. It’s important to take good care of your dentures to prevent any problems from developing. The following self-care advice may be useful:

  • Always fit your dentures correctly to stop them from moving around in your mouth. If they do not fit you properly, visit your dentist.
  • Clean your dentures daily with a special denture cleaner. Denture cleaner is available from most supermarkets or pharmacies.
  • You should brush your dentures with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Remove your dentures while you sleep to allow your gums to rest.
  • Always keep your dentures moist and never let them dry out. If they do become dry, soak them in water before putting them in your mouth.
  • If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.
  • If you smoke, try to cut down or quit.

If you have persistent pain following the fitting of a dental appliance you will need to return to see your dentist or orthodontist.

Last reviewed: August 2015

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