Common Problems

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Are you experiencing a problem?

Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.

Call us at: ( 925) 433-3163

You may also want to visit the common problems section of this page to read about ways you can alleviate your discomfort and fix appliance issues yourself.



True orthodontic emergencies are very rare, but when they do occur Harper Orthodontics is here to help you. As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll schedule an emergency appointment to resolve the problem.

Basic Tips

If there is a loose piece that you can remove, remove it and place it in a plastic bag or envelope and then bring it with you to the following appointment. If your braces are poking you, place soft wax on the part that’s sticking out. If the wire has slid to one side, you may gently pull it back to the other side with needle-nosed pliers, reinserting it into the tube on the back tooth. After alleviating your discomfort, it is vital that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your braces to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.

The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for a few weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You may put wax on the braces to lessen this discomfort. We’ll show you how!

Loose Appliance

If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part.

Loose Bracket

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if needed for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, place it in an envelope and save it to bring to your next appointment.

Loose Wire

Using a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers, try to put your wire back into place. It is okay to use a piece of floss to tie the wire into place: tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing colored o-ring. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn’t help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it.

Poking Wire

Using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it so that it is no longer poking.