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Orthodontic Emergencies — Bethel Park, PA

Fast Care When You Need It Most


An orthodontic emergency can happen in the blink of an eye, leaving adults and children alike struggling with sudden oral pain and worry. Thankfully, Cartwright Orthodontics is here to help. Dr. Cartwright and Dr. Palmer always make time for urgent cases as soon as they possibly can, and our friendly staff members can also provide assistance over the phone if you’re unable to reach our office right away. We have two locations in McMurray, PA and Bethel Park, PA – please  contact the one closest  to you when experiencing an orthodontic emergency.

Why Choose Cartwright Orthodontics for Emergency Dental Care?

  • #1 Compassionate Orthodontist with Well Over 2 Decades of Experience
  • #2 Same-Day Appointments Available for Emergencies
  • #3 Two Convenient Locations

What to Do in a Orthodontic Emergency

Woman with orthodontic emergency in Bethel Park pointing at braces

If you or a loved one experiences an orthodontic emergency, follow these steps right away:

  • Step 1: Call us right away. Call us as soon as you can so we can schedule you for a same-day emergency appointment
  • Step 2: Follow our instructions until you reach us . Over the phone, one of our team members will walk you through how to manage your emergency until you arrive at our office.
  • Step 3: See Dr. Cartwright or Dr. Palmer for an emergency exam . When you arrive, they will see you right away to evaluate your situation and alleviate any serious pain.
  • Step 4: Get the professional care you need . Dr. Cartwright or Dr. Palmer will review their findings with you and how they recommend moving forward. In most cases, we’ll be able to completely address the issue right away, but if needed, we can schedule you for a follow-up appointment.

You should visit our office for any emergency that involves fixing your orthodontic appliance, or any questions you have about treatment. However, if a serious injury occurs that affects your breathing, or there is uncontrollable bleeding, you should head to the nearest emergency room as fast as you can. If you’re unsure, you can also call our office, where one of our friendly team members can give you steps on what to do next.

The Most Common Orthodontic Emergencies

It’s important to understand that if any part of your braces becomes loose or broken, you should book an appointment with our office immediately. Waiting too long to correct your orthodontic appliance can extend your treatment time dramatically. Additionally, if you feel any pain, call our office right away. Soreness and tenderness are completely normal, but we need to treat any severe, persisting discomfort as soon as possible. Here are some of the common situations we see from patients and some helpful tips for what you can do to improve your situation before you arrive at either of our locations:

Understanding the Cost of Emergency Orthodontic Care

Woman experiencing pain while brushing her teeth

The cost of emergency orthodontic care can vary from case to case. When you come in for your appointment, we will assess the situation and provide an estimate for the cost of any necessary treatment. We always strive to address emergencies in an effective and budget-conscious manner.

Every Emergency Is Different

Child with braces undergoing dental exam

Every emergency situation is unique. Therefore, costs can vary greatly. Some issues, such as a loose bracket or a broken wire, are quite easy to fix and do not cost a lot of money. Other problems, such as a severely loose tooth or other significant oral health problems, may come with greater expense. In some situations, we may need to send you to your general dentist or another specialist, which can further affect costs.

After we assess your situation, we will be able to have a candid conversation about the financial aspect of your treatment.

Taking Care of Your Smile Can Save You Money

Young woman using interdental brush to clean around her braces

There are some simple steps you can take to care for your smile and lower the cost of dealing with an orthodontic emergency:

  • Seek care as soon as a problem arises. Often, waiting to address a serious problem will only allow it to get worse. It could prolong your orthodontic treatment and cause significant discomfort in the meantime. Our team wants to help you when you are struggling with your braces or clear aligners!
  • Follow treatment instructions. Taking good care of your teeth and your braces on a daily basis can greatly reduce the risk that you will experience an emergency situation. For example, you should here to a good oral hygiene routine and wear a mouthguard when you play sports. Your excellent habits could help you save money!

Does Dental Insurance Cover Orthodontic Emergencies?

Doctor holding tablet with dental insurance information

If your dental insurance covers orthodontia, it might help you if you face a serious problem related to your treatment. That depends on the details of your plan, including your lifetime orthodontic maximum. If you have a problem with a tooth, your dental insurance may help to pay for it as part of your regular coverage. Our practice accepts insurance, and we will be happy to help you figure out how your benefits apply in any given situation.

Other Options for Making Orthodontic Emergencies Affordable

Man signing papers at dental office front desk

Beyond insurance, there are a few options that might make it easier to afford your emergency treatment:

  • In-house payment plans. If you need a major service from us, you may choose to request a no-interest payment plan.
  • Third-party financing. Many patients qualify for no-interest or low-interest payment plans through CareCredit.
  • Discount for upfront payment. We provide a discount for patients who choose to pay in full at the beginning of their treatment.

Do not allow concerns about cost to derail your orthodontic treatment! Talk to our team to find out how we can help you manage the situation in a way that does not break the bank. We are sensitive to our patients’ budgets and want to help everyone have a positive experience with our practice.

How to Prevent Orthodontic Emergencies

Happy woman with braces smiles after orthodontic emergency in Bethel Park

While orthodontic emergencies should never be considered 100% avoidable, there are ways for patients to be more conscious and minimize their overall risk of experiencing an emergency situation. Please follow the guidelines below:

  • Do your best to avoid foods that are overly chewy, sticky, hard, or brittle in nature. These items can damage your brackets and warp the wires.
  • Some discomfort is normal after braces have been placed or adjusted, but if you’re still experiencing significant pain after three to five days, contact Cartwright Orthodontics right away.
  • Make sure to protect your braces from harm during athletic events by wearing a mouthguard.
  • Brush and floss thoroughly! It’s easier than ever for small particles of food to get trapped between teeth and cause decay when you’re wearing braces.
  • When flossing, feed the short end of your floss through the space that exists between the main arch wire and the upper part of the tooth. Make sure not to use too much force when flossing near the wire!
  • Consider investing in a brush that is specially designed for cleaning braces, such as a proxabrush. This brush should be inserted from the top of the mouth and then up from the bottom, using several strokes to clean the spaces between the braces.
  • When wearing a retainer, make sure to clean it too! You can disinfect it by soaking it in denture cleanser – just make sure to rinse it thoroughly with water before placing it back inside your mouth.

Orthodontic Emergency FAQs

How should I sleep with tooth pain?

Following your adjustment appointments, it’s normal to feel some soreness. The good news is that there are several easy steps you can take to alleviate this and, in turn, help you sleep soundly. That starts with avoiding crunchy, hard, and sticky foods at dinner and extends to sipping on cool water and using a cold compress for 10 minutes at a time to create a temporary numbing sensation. About 30 minutes before bed, you can also take an OTC pain reliever, making sure to follow the directions on the label.

Are toothpicks safe to use?

If you have something caught around a bracket or between a wire, you might be tempted to reach for a toothpick. However, it’s possible for wooden ones to splinter off in your mouth, cut your gums, or push the debris further into position. That’s why it’s best to opt for pre-threaded floss instead. If the debris is particularly stubborn, you can also rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm saltwater to help loosen it.

Should I visit the emergency room first for orthodontic emergencies?

In rare cases, orthodontic emergencies require a visit to the ER. The best way to tell if you need to seek medical attention is to quickly assess your symptoms to see if any are potentially life-threatening. A few examples include extreme facial swelling, uncontrollable bleeding, and difficulty breathing. Conversely, if your orthodontic emergency is a bit more “straightforward,” like a broken bracket or loose wire, then your first call should be to our Bethel Park orthodontic office.

Will my toothache go away on its own?

Periodically throughout your teeth-straightening journey, you might feel soreness from your teeth moving into their new positions. This is completely normal and to be expected. What isn’t normal is a sharp stabbing pain when you bite down or persistent discomfort that seems to be getting worse with time. If you find yourself in this situation, then the best thing to do is call us ASAP to share your symptoms and schedule an exam. That way, we can determine if the root of the problem is something that requires further attention, like a cavity.

What does chronic bad breath mean?

Oftentimes, chronic bad breath is the result of a diet filled with fish, garlic, onions, and other pungent foods. That said, it’s possible for the root of the problem to be something more serious, like gum disease, which is why it’s important to reach out to us if the odor persists even after brushing your teeth or using a sugar-free mint.