What You Can Do to Help Alleviate Discomfort Caused By a Loose Wire End on Your Braces

9 February 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


If you wear braces, then you may have already experienced the pain and discomfort associated with a loose wire poking into your cheek or gums. And, if you haven't yet been pricked by a loose wire, it may still happen at some point during your orthodontic treatment. Fortunately, there are things you can do to alleviate the discomfort until you are able to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist, such as Waterford Dental. Below are several specific actions to take in response to a loose wire:

What You Will Need

Most orthodontic patients are provided with dental wax to cover brackets or other areas that protrude and cause pain. However, it is a good idea for you to obtain a few other specialized tools and materials to have available in case of a loose wire. Here is what you should have on hand:

  • Distal end wire cutter - This tool is designed for use in cutting orthodontic wires, and it is superior to conventional wire cutters due to its ability to grasp the wire being cut; this prevents loose wire snippets from being accidentally swallowed or lodging in the upper throat. Distal end wire cutters can be purchased from a variety of online outlets and may be available locally in some medical supply stores.

  • Lip and cheek retractor - Retractors make pulling your lips and cheeks out of the way much easier than attempting to grasp them by hand. These are important to have because they can help prevent you from accidentally cutting yourself with the wire cutter, and they also maintain maximum visibility inside your mouth.

  • Small hemostat - Hemostats are available at pharmacies, medical supply stores and online retailers. They come with either smooth-surfaced or toothed jaws, and either style is acceptable for use in orthodontic applications.

How to Cover a Loose Wire End

Before bending or cutting the loose wire, your first option should be to cover the end of the wire with dental wax to prevent it from poking your mouth. Covering loose wire ends is not difficult, but you can benefit by knowing what to do:

  1. Warm the wax - Before you begin, warm the dental wax to promote better adhesion. You can place the wax in a microwave oven for no more than ten seconds at a time and heat it until it is soft. If you don't have a microwave handy, then soak the wax container in warm water for several minutes.

  2. Clean and dry the teeth and brackets - You won't have much success adhering wax to your teeth or brackets if they are are wet or dirty. That's why you should clean and dry your teeth and brackets as much as possible before attempting to place wax on the end of the loose wire. Clean them first by thoroughly brushing and rinsing with mouthwash, then use a paper towel to blot your teeth dry; you may need to lay down during the process to keep saliva from running toward the front of your mouth.

  3. Adhere the dental wax to the wire and background object - In the case of a loose wire, roll a small ball of wax equivalent to the size of a pea, then push the wax on top of the wire. Next, push the small ball of wax containing the wire end onto the nearest tooth or bracket in order to anchor everything. Place additional wax on top of the initial wax ball if it appears to need reinforcing.

How to Bend a Loose Wire End

If a loose wire end can't be covered and readily anchored to a nearby tooth with wax, then the next step is to bend the end of the wire out of the way. Here is what to do:

  1. Grasp the end of the wire with a small hemostat - Locate the tip of the loose wire and clamp it tightly with a small hemostat. Be careful not to pinch your gums, tongue or cheek with the hemostat. It may help if you use a lip and cheek retractor to pull your cheek out of the way.

  2. Roll the wire around the tip of the hemostat - While holding a moderate tension on the wire with the hemostat, slowly rotate the end of the hemostat to begin wrapping the loose wire end around the tool. Don't pull too tightly, or you may yank the wire from the brackets. The goal is to curl the end of the wire into a safe, tight bundle, so it is no longer able to poke your mouth.

  3. Release the hemostat - Once the wire is bundled, carefully release the hemostat and slide it free from the wire.

How to Cut a Loose Wire End

If you are unable to successfully place wax on the wire end or bend it, then you can snip the wire to remove the offending tip. Here is how to perform the snip:

  1. Position the distal end wire cutter where you wish to make the cut - Once you have decided where to snip the loose wire, position the cutter so its jaws are aligned squarely over the wire. Be sure to keep your tongue clear of the cutter jaws.
  2. Snip the wire with the cutter - After the cutter has been positioned, squeeze the handles slowly but firmly to snip the wire. The wire snippet will remain in the jaws of the cutter, so don't release the handles until you have pulled it from it from your mouth. Make additional cuts as needed if the first cut wasn't enough to provide relief.