Broken Braces? What to do if a Bracket or Wire Breaks (Don't Panic!)

Treatments & Care

a dental wire brace across the front of white teeth

It’s not unusual to sometimes break a wire or bracket when you have braces. There’s nothing to panic about, but you should take action to get your broken braces fixed.

Damaged braces can cause discomfort, cuts and abrasions inside the mouth and, if left unfixed, make your treatment less effective. You may need to do a minor fix yourself before you can can get to the Orthodontist for a proper repair.

How to Protect Your Mouth if Your Braces Broke

A broken wire or moving bracket can be sharp so you may need to take action to protect your mouth before your Orthodontist can see you. Common fixes need tweezers to move the broken brackets to a more comfortable position or nail clippers to trim a sharp wire. Wax should be used to cover up sharp points and protect your mouth.

Read on for how to perform quick fixes for three common types of damaged braces:

  • Bracket loose (floating) from the tooth but still on the wire

  • Broken arch wire

  • Wire protruding from the last bracket


Floating Bracket (A Braces Bracket Came Off)

Brackets are the part of the braces that attach to each tooth with special adhesive. If a bracket dislodges from the tooth but is still on the wire, it can rotate and move along the wire. Contact your Orthodontist to organise a time to have broken brackets reattached to your teeth.

A floating bracket rarely causes as much pain or damage as other breakages, but it can rub on the inside of your mouth. Before visiting your Orthodontist for the repair, you can sterilise a pair of tweezers and use them to slide the bracket along the wire so it sits between two teeth or into the centre of the tooth. Use the tweezers to rotate the bracket so it’s facing the right direction. If the bracket is uncomfortable, cover the surface with some dental wax.


Broken Wire

If your arch wire breaks, the sharp end can poke into your cheek or gum, causing it to bleed and increases the chance of infection. To make the wire safe until you can see your Orthodontist, use a pair of nail clippers or small pliers to cut off the end so it’s a neat finish. If there is any risk that the patient may swallow the small piece of clipped wire, try using a tissue inside the mouth while clipping the end.

Girl holding her mouth in pain because of broken braces wire

Protruding Wire

As teeth move, there is a slight chance that the wire will come out of the last bracket. If the wire is poking into the check or gum, cut the end with nail clippers or small pliers. You can also use Orthodontic wax to cover up sharp ends. Contact your Orthodontist to have the wire replaced.


Bent Wire

Eating foods that are too hard for braces can cause the wire to bend. When your braces wire bends, the loose bands can’t pull teeth into position. If you notice any changes with the wire being loose, bent or broken,make an appointment with your Orthodontist straight away. It’s better to have it checked out than do nothing for weeks and find out the wire has compromised your treatment.


Why Orthodontic Breakages Occur

The most common reason braces break is eating hard, crunchy or sticky food. Remember to think before you eat to avoid a break. A few minutes each day spent cutting food into smaller pieces or swapping out foods not recommended for braces can save time in the long-run. An unscheduled visit to the Orthodontist to fix broken braces can require parents to take time off work and kids time away from school.

Read more about what you can and can’t eat with braces here.

Another cause of damage to braces is a knock to the mouth while playing sport. Always wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports. Speak to your Orthodontist about a new or replacement mouthguard if your teeth have moved and the mouthguard isn’t fitting properly. Rough play can also end in braces being damaged or a mouth injury.

Sometimes food gets stuck between teeth and braces. If you can’t dislodge by brushing or using a piece of floss, you may need to ask your Orthodontist or your regular dentist to clean between the teeth. Using a toothpick could bend the wire or knock a bracket off the tooth. Regular brushing allows teeth to move into position as directed by the braces. When food is constantly caught between teeth, it can restrict movement.

Woman eating a carrot, risking breaking her braces

How to Heal Cuts and Sores in Your Mouth

Unfortunately, it’s common for people with braces to get mouth ulcers or cuts. Sores inside the mouth usually heal quickly but if braces keep irritating the same spot in the mouth, it can take longer to heal. New braces cause the most irritation to the inside of cheeks and as do braces with broken wires or brackets.

A small amount of dental wax can provide relief because it provides a buffer between the metal bracket and the mouth. Roll a pea-sized amount of wax and then flatten the wax over the bracket. You can leave the wax in while eating - it’s harmless if you accidentally swallow some.

Salt water rinses can soothe and help heal sores by keeping the area clean. Mix a teaspoon of salt in warm water and rinse around your mouth. You can use salt water several times a day if it provides some relief.

You can also use an antiseptic rinse designed for oral care, as well as numbing creams. Good oral hygiene is important at all times, particularly when you have cuts or sores in your mouth.

Stick to soft foods and avoid very hot or very cold drinks.


Ask Your Orthodontist for Advice

If you have any questions, it is best to contact your Orthodontist and ask their advice as soon as you notice a problem. Broken braces, loose wire braces or a floating bracket can cause teeth to revert to an old position quicker than you think. Don’t panic but, if part of your braces broke, remember that leaving a breakage until your next scheduled appointment might cause problems and sometimes extend treatment time.

Most breakages are a quick and easy fix. Call The Orthodontists on (08) 9364 8020 or book an appointment online.

Category: Treatments & Care