Obtaining an injury to your face or mouth can be scary because even the smallest cut can produce a lot of blood. The gums, tongue, and lips have a larger blood supply than other areas of the body, which can cause these areas to bleed heavier than an arm or leg injury. This means even the smallest injury can appear much more serious. Even if the injury isn’t serious, trauma to the lips, mouth, and tongue is painful due to the large amount of soft tissue. Wearing braces can slightly increase the severity of mouth injuries since the brackets and wires can cut into the cheeks, tongue and gums. While it is not uncommon to experience injuries from braces, there are preventative measures and effective treatment options for quickly getting you back to having a healthy smile. This article will cover the most common injuries from braces, how to avoid them, and how to effectively treat them.
Common Injuries from Braces
Many of the most common injuries from braces come from sports that involve contact or impact. These rough sports include rock climbing, mountain or road biking, skiing, gymnastics, and most team sports (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, and hockey).
Injuries can also be caused by eating hard or sticky foods. Caramels, chips, carrots, ice, and gum are all troublesome for those who wear braces because they have a tendency to get stuck on the brackets, wires, and bands, causing breakage. A broken wire poking into your cheek is not only irritating and painful, but it can also lead to cutting the gums and inner lining of your mouth.
How to Treat Injuries
The most important step to treating an injury to the mouth, gums, or teeth is to keep calm. While mouth injuries can produce a lot of blood, they often can be handled with home first aid. If you aren’t at home, try to find a clean public restroom, as this will allow you to have access to running water, soap, and paper towels.
Wash your hands well prior to beginning any treatment. You can then begin applying pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes. Pull away the cloth to check for continued bleeding and any debris in the wound. If the wound is on the lips or outside of the mouth, gently remove any debris and run water from the faucet over the wound for several minutes. Do not scrub or blow on the wound, as this can introduce germs and lead to infection.
In most cases, the bleeding will stop on its own. If the bleeding doesn’t subside within 10 to 15 minutes of direct pressure or if the wound is embedded with debris, extremely painful, or was caused by a human or animal bite, visit your local emergency room or urgent care. If you notice signs of an infection in a couple days, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or fluid leaking, seek immediate care.
If you have any exposed wires poking into your cheeks or gums, you can use orthodontic wax to stick the wire back on the bracket or make the end less sharp until you can be seen by your orthodontist. Another great trick is to use the eraser at the end of a pencil to gently bend the wire away from any areas where it’s poking and back towards the teeth.
How to Avoid Braces Injuries
Completely avoiding braces injuries is impossible, but there are steps that you can take for extra protection. If you or your child plays sports or engages in physical activity that could cause injury, consider getting an orthodontic mouthguard. An orthodontic mouthguard is different from a sports mouthguard, as it is designed to fit over your braces to protect your teeth and braces in the case of an accident.
At Smith Orthodontics, we deeply care about our clients health and offer after hours care to help with orthodontic emergencies. If you obtain an injury due to braces and observe broken teeth, exposed wires, or broken brackets, call our office and our knowledgeable staff will assist you.