Urbana, MD 21704 ph: 301.874.0080


Although orthodontic emergencies are rare, Dr. McTavish understands the importance of being available to help alleviate discomfort from orthodontic appliances. Please call the office for emergency contact information.

If instructions from Dr. McTavish and his staff by phone do not resolve the emergency and you are in pain or discomfort, arrangements will be made for palliative care to be provided after hours or the next office day (comfort appointment). This appointment will take only a few minutes. A repair appointment will be scheduled if needed.

( Typical emergencies and how to solve them )

Loose or Poking wire

If a wire causes irritation, push the wire away from the area using the eraser end of a pencil or a Q-tip. If the wire cannot be tucked away, cover the end of the wire with a small piece of wax or a cotton ball until you can see us for an adjustment.

If the main wire has come out of the tube on the back tooth, attempt to reinsert the wire with a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers. If the wire is not sticking you, place a piece of wax over the area. The wire may also be cut with a small wire cutter or fingernail clipper close to the back of the last brace.

Loose Brace or Band

Loose braces and bands usually remain attached to the main wire and therefore are generally not a source of discomfort. Tweezers can be used to reposition a brace if it flips around the wire and becomes a source of irritation. Please call our office and inform us of the problem.

Loose part of an appliance (expander, space maintainer, lip bumper, etc): Please save the piece and call our office to schedule a repair visit.

Lost spacer

If a spacer falls out, please call our office so we can determine if the spacer should be replaced. If it happens within 2 days of your next appointment, you do not need to do anything.

If You Swallow Something

Remain calm if you swallow a piece of your appliance. It will usually go into the stomach and pass out of the body in a bowel movement. However, if you experience difficulty breathing, you should seek immediate medical attention. X-rays will be taken to determine the location of the swallowed piece.

Broken Retainer

Please remove the retainer from your mouth and notify our office if a retainer cracks or breaks.

Sore Teeth or Sore Gums

You may take ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) if your teeth are sore after your appointment. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS, PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE ANY HISTORY OF ALLERGIC REACTIONS.

Rinsing your mouth with a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt can be soothing. Minor irritations and canker sores will heal much more quickly if you apply Zylactin or Orabase according to the manufacturer's directions. You can purchase these products over the counter at most pharmacies and convenience stores.

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