This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate BracesKnowHow.com earns from qualifying purchases.
When you’re getting braces for the first time, there’s nothing more frustrating than having issues like broken brackets and loose, poking wires. Unfortunately, the first weeks or months of braces is when most of these things actually happen.
So, if you’re dealing with a loose wire that has come out of the last bracket, then this article is for you! I explain exactly why this happens and what you can do about it at home. Who knows, you may not even need to go to your orthodontist’s office.
Stick with me until the end and I’ll give you a checklist of what to look for before calling your doctor’s office so you know what the issue is.
Why does the wire pop out of the last bracket?
In the first few months of orthodontic treatment, you’ll go through some pretty flexible wires. These wires are light and bendy enough to get around all the crooked teeth, but this also means that they can easily come out of the last bracket if snagged or repeatedly chewed on.
So how does this happen? Usually, this issue occurs in the lower arch. I’ve rarely seen someone with a loose end of the wire in their top teeth. I’m guessing this is because of the way we eat and apply pressure with our jaws.
Some patients are more prone to having loose wire ends than others, and this has a lot to do with their jaw muscles and how hard they squeeze on food when they chew. These are the same patients that have their wires constantly shifting to one side. Hopefully, this is not you.
Another common reason why wires escape that last bracket is eating hard foods. Many of my patients confess to “gently” eating forbidden foods like chips and popcorn without breaking brackets. However, not breaking a bracket doesn’t mean that the light wire will stay unaffected.
You can also permanently bend light wires with hard food and cause unwanted movement in your teeth, so try to be careful with your diet.
Lastly, a technical reason why your wire may have come out of the back bracket is because of the way the wire was cut. Some orthodontists prefer to cut the wire “flush”, as close to the bracket as possible, so it doesn’t poke their cheeks.
However, the downside of this approach is that the wire can easily escape, especially in the first few months when we’re dealing with those NiTi flexible wires. (If you want to know more about the entire succession of wires we use, check this article.)
What I like to do is place a “bendback” bend in my light wires, it’s basically a crimping motion with a special plier. The end of the archwire gets bent toward the gum so it doesn’t bother my patient, and we’re good to go. This way, the wire will have a “stop” that won’t allow it to come out of the bracket, and it will stay away from the cheeks as well.
What to do in case the wire comes out?
First things first, notify your orthodontist’s office. Don’t put this off, even if the wire doesn’t bother you. If the wire sits outside of the last tooth it won’t work on correcting any issues you might have in your back teeth as they will sit there unengaged.
You can try to fix this on your own, and I’ll show you exactly how to do it:
You’ll only be able to pop your wire back in if the wire is round and flexible. And obviously, you’ll need your bracket to still be in place. Don’t push too hard, or you can cause other brackets to come off.
If you manage to get your wire back in, then just let your orthodontist know, and you may not need to go back into the office until your regular appointment.
Some patients have this happening repeatedly. This may be the case if you’re dealing with extraction spaces and long pieces of wire that aren’t supported by brackets. Another reason would be dealing with crooked teeth and a very light piece of wire.
Either way, let your orthodontist know if this is a frequent occurrence for you, so they can place a bendback / distal cinch back or other tricks they might have to stop that wire from coming out.
If you don’t manage to get your wire back in, it’s really bothering you and there’s no way you can get to your orthodontist in time, then it’s best to cut the wire using a small wire cutter, or, worst case scenario, nail clippers. Check this article on poking wires to learn more.
Checklist before going to your orthodontist
It’s always a good idea to do a small audit on your own before going to your orthodontist to fix emergencies. This is so the staff knows how much time to allow for your procedure. Here’s what I suggest you check for:
- Loose brackets. With your finger, gently wiggle each bracket (especially right to left) to see if they’re firmly in place.
- Check your back teeth for glue. Some people lose their last brackets and don’t even know it, the only clue being some excess wire and glue residue on their back teeth.
- Wires hurting your cheek. Aside from coming out of the last bracket, has your wire been poking your cheek? Your doctor may need to trim it or replace it. In the meantime, you can apply this natural blend to alleviate the pain in the area.
- Elastic ties. If you have traditional braces on, check to see if all your teeth have a colored elastic O ring on the bracket. Lost ligature ties can slow down treatment if not addressed.
Remember, loose wires that pop out of the last bracket are a common thing in the first months of braces. You should stop having this issue once your doctor moves to a thicker wire that’s too stiff to move.
In the meantime, it can be annoying to deal with this, but soft wires are so useful for straightening crooked teeth that having the wire come out every now and then is just a minor event that we barely pay any attention to. Not to mention it’s super easy to fix. So keep calm and be patient, it will get better soon.
Whether you’re new to braces or a braces veteran, taking care of your teeth (and your health) during orthodontic treatment is crucial. That’s why I’ve put together a list of orthodontist-recommended tools that will make caring for your braces a breeze: