Unbracketed Teeth: Why The Brackets On Your Braces Can Become Loose

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Even though the general principle of braces seems simple enough (various wires and brackets working together to apply gentle pressure to teeth), your braces are in fact a finely-calibrated orthodontic appliance. When just one component experiences an error, the overall effectiveness of your braces can be compromised. One such common error is when one of the brackets bonded to your teeth loosens its grip. What causes a loose bracket, and what do you need to do about it?

Your Orthodontic Brackets

The brackets attached to your teeth are made of either ceramic or metal. They might be conspicuously metal-colored or can be tooth-colored. What has happened is that the dental cement bonding the bracket to the underlying tooth has weakened, causing the bracket to detach. The bracket will still be attached to the archwire thread through it, but it is no longer applying pressure to that specific tooth. This means that the tooth in question is no longer being repositioned via your orthodontic treatment. 

A Temporary Solution

A loose bracket certainly needs to be reattached, and this shouldn't wait until your next checkup. In the meantime, you may appreciate placing a tiny piece of dental wax between the loose bracket and its tooth. This minimizes friction, but is not a permanent solution, as the wax will not cause the bracket to reattach to the underlying tooth. It's more about comfort, instead of functionality. You must see your orthodontist to have the loose bracket reattached.

What Your Orthodontist Will Do

Your orthodontist will determine the reason for the error, which might be:

  • Improper (or insufficient) application of the bonding agent. This can easily be corrected, and the bracket is simply re-cemented. 
  • Eating foods that are too sticky may have caused the bracket to detach, literally pulling the bracket away from the tooth. You will be advised to be more cautious with your diet.
  • Brushing and flossing too vigorously can similarly loosen a bracket. Your orthodontist will be able to talk to you about the best methods for cleaning your teeth when you have braces.
  • The tooth itself may be experiencing a cavity or other form of surface deterioration. This can weaken the bracket's bond with the tooth. You may be referred back to your dentist for treatment before the bracket can be reapplied.

A loose bracket is hardly an emergency, but don't delay seeking treatment. The longer you wait, the further the affected tooth is left behind as your orthodontic treatment continues.

Contact an orthodontic office, such as Poulson Orthodontics, for more information.