How To Remove Orthodontics or Braces in an Emergency

Yesterday I was having supper with two of my grandchildren when I got to noticing the braces on their teeth. That brought up the question of what to do about braces in a long-term emergency. At what point do you remove them and how?

After a bit of research I found out the following.  I couldn’t find a good answer as to when to take them off. I have looked on the internet and have found some you tubes showing how to remove braces. This one seems to be about the best

It looks like it is fairly easy to remove braces, if they are of this type. I am wondering if there are other styles and if this makes a difference in how you remove them? What complications can occur and how do we prevent them?

On another note, how do you take care of teeth and dental issues in a SHTF scenario? It might be impossible to either get to a dentist’s office or, if you can, that the dentist would have the supplies necessary. (Remember how dependent we are on “just in time” shipping for nearly all the goods we buy and use.) It would be smart to learn how to make homemade toothpaste (and have the ingredients on hand). This article has a complete list of dental supplies you can begin adding to your preps.

Interested in more common-sense health related articles?

16 thoughts on “How To Remove Orthodontics or Braces in an Emergency”

  1. Just came from the orthodontist today – teenage son has had braces for more than 2 years and is nearing the end of that particular journey.
    I’m just a parent who had braces as a child and have had two children have them as well. I’m not any sort of orthodontics expert.

    There are other types of braces — the image you have posted shows simple brackets, which are cemented to the surface of the tooth. The video only shows the removal of those brackets as well.

    In the back, most patients have bands, which wrap fully around his molars to help stabilize everything up front. THOSE are a bit more complicated to remove, but I imagine a good pair of needle-nose pliers and some back and forth movement would get the band to loosen side-to-side/around the tooth, and then it just slips up and over the molar. (Son’s bands came off today — brought some skin and caused some bleeding, too.)

  2. I know you posted this a couple months ago, but I just found the link and feel I can offer some advice on this matter. I will preface this by saying I am NOT an orthodontist. I am NOT a doctor, any and all advice is strictly from MY experience and I hope will only be used in an emergency situation. That being said I am an orthodontic assistant and have 11+ years experience. I have removed probably upwards of 100 set of braces in my years.
    First, the necessity of removing braces in an emergency. It would depend on how long term, if you do not forsee a way to have medical treatment in the next several months or so, then it would probably be a good idea to remove them, simply for convenience. The braces will continue to work as long as the colored elastics stay on and/or the wires stay engaged to the brackets (the small squares glued to the front of the teeth) these can be glued to the front or the back of teeth. When you get braces ‘tightened’ we sometimes place a different sized or shaped wire, which is what moves to the teeth to fit a certain alignment, and with most braces connect the wires to the brackets with small elastic ties. Newer types of braces are self-ligated, meaning the bracket itself holds onto the wire with a clip or door that closes over the wires. These types will actually work longer as elastics eventually lose their elasticity and are not as tight and/or eventually fall off. Bands are, as the previous commenter mentioned, usually only around the molars, if at all. These are cemented just as the braces are, yet wrap around the entirety of the tooth, for added strength. Long-term wearing of braces would not be an issue and would not cause any potential problems. The necessity would be that braces, wires, and elastics are a hotbed for bacteria and plaque farms. The extra nooks and crannies in your already disgusting (no seriously) mouth make it much harder to have proper oral hygiene. Without braces your lips and tongue will clean your teeth fairly well on their own, braces can get in the way of this. This is why your dentist gives you a huge lecture on how to brush around your braces when you get them on. It’s not that the braces themselves will cause cavities or decay, it’s the fact that it is much easier to get cavities. So in an emergency situation if you could keep up good brushing and flossing habits there wouldn’t be any reason to remove them.
    If you do then, all you need is a good set of pliers. The tool we use is more of a wire cutter; short, stubby, and sharp. Have the patient lie on the couch or bed with their head in your lap. Pliers in hand, place around the bracket itself, flat against the tooth. DO NOT for any reason grab the tooth itself. This could only potentially break or crack a tooth. Brackets typically have a groove close to the tooth face made just for this purpose. Apply slight pressure, support the backside of the tooth with your finger (for comfort only, not danger of breakage) and twist or torque the pliers. Again TWIST. You are NOT pulling forward, essentially ripping off the brackets. You are applying a torque force, twisting your wrist. These are how braces are designed to come off. By applying a force directly up or down. This is why when you bite into something too hard or sticky the brackets will come off or break. Biting down creates the same directional forces as twisting or torquing. Braces are made to be pulled forwards, this the direction we are typically moving teeth, and it would be very painful/difficult to remove. With the proper technique, the are removed quite easily. What you are doing is separating the bracket from the glue. The glue or bonding used on brackets is very strong. In fact it is almost identical to the same materials used in tooth colored fillings, which as most people know can last practically forever. As such after twisting off the brackets, the glue will still be left on the tooth. Frankly, this won’t be much of an issue beside aesthetics and possibly annoyance. You could potentially attempt to scrape some of the glue off with the flat of the pliers or some cutters. But the glue would be essentially flat, if just a little rough, so the hygiene issue is solved. It might look a little discolored, being the aesthetic problem. But would act as a sealant for the tooth structure underneath, so no reason to really stress about removing it all. Some might wear away with time and brushing. And if it really all goes down where you are having to worry about removing your own braces, I think that is the least of your worries. As with bands, just like the previous commenter suggested, rocking up/down back and forth is the same idea as the twisting/torquing motion. Using the pliers grab onto the bracket attached to the band, the small square on the cheek side of the teeth, and twist up, then down, rocking the band, breaking up the seals between the band and the glue. Similarly, glue will still be on the tooth and with bands it might even be colored. Again, you can scrape it off or just leave it.
    Complications of removal are only if you try to grab or squeeze any of the tooth structure itself. Using the wrong technique, ie. not twisting to remove. The bleeding and any gum damage would only occur if the patient didn’t have the greatest of hygiene habits in the past. Without proper skills of brushing around the brackets and wires and flossing on a regular basis the same bacteria that creates plaque in your mouth, enters the soft tissue of your gums. It then creates an infection called gingivitis. This infection, like most, will cause your gums to become inflamed, red, sore, warm, and puffy. If left unchecked, they will eventually grow closer and/or up and over the braces. The only real problem with this, is the pain when removing the braces/bands and tearing off the tender flesh. It might bleed a lot, the mouth does. But will heal just fine, as long as kept clean.
    This was a really long comment. But I hope the information is helpful to at least one person. I really hope we never need it, but thank you… to people like you for helping us help ourselves.

    1. I have previously had braces for three years an I took them off myself leaving behind the bands an now later down the road they are bothering me an the band is starting to cut into my gum am I can not get them off. It gives me bad headaches an I have a hard time eating.

      1. Chew lots of sticky candy and gum. This will loosen the band from around the tooth. When you can wiggle the band or see any kind of movement, grasp the bracket on the side of the band and wiggle it up. It is possible your bands are already lose and simply need to be removed now.
        Keeping the bands on is very dangerous without a doctors supervision because once the glue is gone, bacteria can get inbetween the band and the tooth, potentially causing a major cavity.

  3. My braces are the ones pictured up top. I have had these braces on for nearly 2 years and due to financial hardship I am unable to go back to the orthodontist to have them removed and don’t know what to do to get them off. I was just wondering is it possible to do the above techniques yourself? As I have pretty bad teeth, I am very reluctant to have anyone see them, hence I’d rather try attempt to take them out myself if possible, otherwise I’ll have to find a friend i trust and see whether they are willing to help me remove these braces. They’ve been on so long that the wire has come off, it’s basically just the silver brackets sitting on my teeth.

    Any advise, will be much appreciated. Thank you 🙂

    1. I am not a dentist and can’t give you that kind of advice. The suggestions that I have made are only for a real emergency in which medical care is no longer available. I wish there is more I could do to help you, check with your local dentists and see if there is any kind of free dental care available.

    2. Removal of braces without retainers will cause your teeth to shift. This will lose any improvement you’ve gotten with the braces.
      The best option might be to contact your precious orthodontist and ask how much it would be to simply remove the braces and get a set of retainers to hold the movement you’ve gotten.
      The next best thing especially if you plan on restarting treatment, would be to keep your braces EXTREMELY clean and simply leave them on. Braces can be a food and plaque trap, but if kept clean, will not cause any damage to your teeth.

  4. There is often dental and health care available for the low income and uninsured. You just need to do some looking and make some calls. if you have an agape house or something like that in your area they will often help you. You just have to keep looking. You said it your self you have pretty bad teeth so care is necessary.

  5. Hey folks, I’ve just removed my own braces yesterday. I bought a dental pliers off of amazon and it was so easy to do. Start with the back brackets and work your way around from one end to the next. When you grab the brackets with the dental pliers wiggle it up and down gently about 5-6 times then pull up and out and it’s off. There’s a video on YouTube on how a dentist would actually do it. The dental pliers cost around $8.50 with free shipping at amazon. It looks like pliers but the ends actually blunted and fit nicely on your brackets. First I tried using regular pliers but it didn’t grab on tight so I stop trying.
    As for the glue that is left I still haven’t figure out how to do it. I tried the baking soda plus hydrogen peroxide method tonight but I guess I have to do more before the whole glue can come offf, by the way if anyone knows a good trick, do reply to my post. Thank you kindly.

  6. Removal of your braces without retainers will cause your teeth to shift, losing whatever improvement you’ve gotten with the braces. As OP stated, this is for emergency use only, not for at home orthodontics.

    Also tooth enamel grows in layers. Improper removal of braces can cause the enamel to break off in layers or shards. This is uncommon and only happens if the bracket is forcefully yanked from the tooth. The lower four front teeth are the ones most at risk for this due to size and enamel thickness.

    If you must remove the braces, biting on something (like a cotton roll) will help to minimize any discomfort or pressure from removing the braces. Large chunks of glue can be removed simply by grabbing it with the pliers you used for the brackets. It will come off it pieces and crumble. Scraping the enamel surface with the pliers will cause scratches on the front of the tooth that can not be reversed.

  7. Hi i have my braces for nearly is self ligated.i want to remove it for i am uncomfortable.can you please help me? Thanks

    1. I’d recommend going to an orthodontist for that, in spite of this YouTube video. The video is meant for worst case scenarios only.

  8. Finally I got a idea for removing braces from your home without much pain. You can remove your braces by just using cleaned or new NAIL CLIPPER
    “Only use this trick on emergency”

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