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Dental appliance problems

4-minute read

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 are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.
  • 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, you can cover them 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.

Dental crowns, caps or bridges

Dental crowns, caps and bridges are used to repair and prevent damage to your teeth, but they can break away or become loose. If this happens, see your dentist. In the meantime:

  • 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 on what 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. Never use force to get your dentures in or out.
  • Clean your dentures daily using a soft toothbrush and mild soap and water or a special denture cleaner (available from most supermarkets or pharmacies). Standard toothpaste is not recommended.
  • If your denture gets a build-up of tartar on it, try soaking it in a mixture of 1-part white vinegar and 4-parts water, or ask your dentist to polish it for you.
  • 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: November 2017

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