Braces are a very common way of fixing a wide variety of dental issues, most commonly they are used for crowding, crooked teeth or teeth that are out of alignment.
They are used for both children and adults and are an easy way to repair teeth as they will gradually straighten and align them on their own as you wear them and go through your regular day.
Brackets are just one of the many components that make up braces, however they are also the most important.
Connected to the teeth through bonding cement, brackets are easily visible as the square blocks in front of each tooth which work to control the movement of the tooth.
Because of their size however they can quite easily come loose and while this is not a major concern, it is still advised to repair it so that the braces can work as they should.
If you find you do have a loose bracket then you won’t be in urgent danger, however there are a few considerations as to how long you can go with a loose bracket and if it can cause any complications during this time.
What Is A Bracket?
Brackets have built in features which are designed to control the movement and angle of teeth.
Alongside doing this itself, it also allows a dentist to get into areas of a tooth much easier, for example they can place an arch wire near a bracket for even more control over a tooth’s movements.
They also allow dentists to attach elastomeric or stainless steel ligatures on the tie wings located at the corners of the bracket.
Brackets are the primary component of braces and without them, the brace just would not function properly.
Brackets are what hold the braces in place and apply pressure to align the teeth in a gradual but painless manner, being incredibly smart and efficient at what they do.
How Long Can You Go With A Loose Bracket?
Loose brackets, also known as broken or floating brackets, is something nearly every person with braces will experience at least once.
A loose bracket is easy to spot because it will visibly no longer be attached to your tooth, instead it will slide across the arch wire or can even be flipped around.
Brackets can break quite easily, this could be from eating solid foods, grinding teeth at night putting pressure on the braces or getting knocked in a game or sport, while they are glued to the teeth they are still quite prone to coming loose.
The good news is that if you notice a loose bracket, it’s not considered urgent and so you won’t need to immediately drive straight to the dentist and pay a big sum to get it repaired.
You can usually wait several days or even weeks to have it repaired and it will have no negative effect on your treatment.
This is not to say it should not be repaired at all however, down the line a loose bracket can cause much discomfort so you should still book an appointment to get it pushed back in place.
A lot of this really comes down to discomfort, if you start feeling some slight pain or just want to get the brace fixed as soon as possible, contact your dentist who will arrange an appointment to get it fixed and glued back on.
These sessions are very quick, often lasting no more than 15 minutes, and can be worth doing so the dentist can also check potential issues with the other braces.
How Do Dentists Fix Brackets?
The process for repairing a bracket is often very quick and simple. Firstly the dentist will remove the bracket from the arch wire and make sure it is cleaned and sanitized.
The tooth itself is then polished with any bracket adhesive removed.
The tooth will then be prepared for orthodontic bonding just as it was the first time the braces were installed. The bracket is then bonded to the tooth and is now fully restored.
This is not a major dental procedure and usually only takes between 5 to 10 minutes.
Multiple loose brackets can take a bit longer, however they all follow this same procedure of quickly cleaning both the tooth and bracket and then re-bonding back into the arch wire.
If you are waiting for an appointment and can feel a bit of discomfort due to the loose bracket, then there are a few remedies you can personally use to mitigate the pain for a few days.
The most common method is simply placing some orthodontic wax over the top of the bracket to bond it back onto the tooth for a little while.
The best way to get the wax to stick is to dry the area first so that it has no chance of slipping off and then applying the wax.
If you find that the wax is having a hard time sticking, you could also consider using sugar free gum over the top of the bracket or wire which helps eliminate discomfort.
If you find that a piece of the wire has broken along with the bracket, this can cause some uncomfortable pain to the gums and cheeks so to make the wire safer until you see your dentist it can sometimes be worth using a pair of nail clippers or small pliers to cut off the end so it is a neat finish.
A loose bracket is not a cause for worry, it is very common and can be repaired in no time.
You can therefore wait for a few days or weeks before getting it glued back into place however it should never be ignored entirely as it can cause some complications in the straightening process of the braces down the line.
Therefore if you notice a loose bracket, while immediate repairs are not necessary, it can still be worth contacting the dentist when you can just so the braces can work as they should.