My bracket broke! What do I do?

By Appel Orthodontics
July 19, 2023

Braces today are made to be strong and durable. Once your braces brackets are on your teeth, we expect them to stay throughout your treatment. Sometimes, though, accidents happen. You may bite down on something a bit too hard. You might end up in an accident where you are hit in the mouth. It might even be that the bonding agent that binds the bracket to the tooth didn’t set quite right. 

Whatever the case, there may be an instance where you end up with a loose or broken bracket. What do you do? Appel Orthodontics can repair your broken bracket, but there are things you can do before then to help keep your braces intact and your treatment on track. 

What Is a Bracket? 

What exactly do we mean when we talk about “braces brackets”? Most braces comprise three main components: brackets, bands, and wires. Bands fit on the back molars in traditional stainless steel braces and hold the archwire. Brackets are small metal or ceramic pieces adhered to each tooth that applies pressure to the teeth to move them. The archwire slides into notches on the brackets and provides the pressure to move your teeth. 

Appel Orthodontics uses customized ceramic brackets and archwires to move your teeth. Our braces are made to provide maximum movement with minimal discomfort, so your treatment is more comfortable and faster than with traditional metal braces. Our brackets are made to fit the curve and texture of each of your teeth. 

What Causes a Broken Bracket on Braces?

Many things can cause a broken bracket, wire, or even a loose braces bracket during orthodontic treatment. One of the most common causes is eating the wrong foods. Biting hard, chewy, or sticky foods can loosen or pull off a bracket. This can include chewing on ice, biting tortilla chips, or chewing gum. 

Injuries can also break a bracket. We’ve seen children wearing braces come in with a broken bracket because they were hit with a ball in the mouth or face during sports. That’s why we encourage our patients to use a mouthguard when playing sports to prevent damage to their braces and their mouths. 

The special dental cement we use to bond a bracket to your tooth may not be set correctly on rare occasions. If that happens, you may have a loose bracket, or the bracket may come off your tooth ultimately. In such cases, it’s easy to reapply the bonding agent and place the bracket back onto the tooth. 

Does It Hurt When a Bracket Breaks?

Unless you damage the tooth and the bracket, it probably won’t hurt when a bracket breaks. Some patients don’t realize they’ve broken or loosened a bracket until they see it in a mirror or feel it is moving against their tooth or along the archwire. 

The bracket will usually stay attached to the archwire, though it may slide back and forth or spin on the archwire. It doesn’t hurt, but it can get annoying. Grab a piece of dental wax and cover the broken bracket if this is the case. This holds the bracket against your tooth until we can repair it. 

Sometimes, a broken bracket can break the wire, too. If the wire is poking you, you can trim the sharp edge off with nail clippers or cover it with dental wax until you come in for repairs. 

How Long Can You Go With a Loose Bracket?

When should you repair a loose bracket? We’ll tell you that you should get it repaired as soon as possible. Does that mean you must make an emergency appointment and rush in that day for a fix? No, not really. 

We recommend you call us immediately so we can set up an appointment to repair your bracket as soon as possible. However, it’s OK if that appointment isn’t for a day or two or even up to a week. We will fix it quickly to keep your treatment on track!

What Happens If I Swallow a Braces Bracket?

It’s very rare to swallow a braces bracket because it usually stays attached to the archwire, a floating bracket. However, if you do swallow a bracket, don’t panic! The brackets are tiny, and the ceramic material we use is non-toxic. Likely, it will just pass through your system within 24 hours. (Don’t try to bring it back in, please. We’ll just get you a new bracket.)

Braces Repair in Philadelphia, PA

Broken braces can constitute an orthodontic emergency but should not cause panic. It’s not difficult for Appel Orthodontics to repair your broken braces bracket. We will remove your archwire and prepare a new bracket to replace your old one if we can’t use the old bracket (such as if it’s damaged). We’ll clean and dry your tooth, apply the bonding agent, and replace the bracket. Then, we’ll check your other brackets and put the archwire back on your teeth. 

Schedule an appointment if you’re in the Philadelphia, PA, area for bracket repair or get some of our amazing braces. We’ll be happy to help you! 

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