adult wonders what happens if she swallowed a braces bracket is rare

What happens if I swallow a braces bracket?

So you swallowed a braces bracket, huh? Swallowing a braces bracket is rare, but it does happen. 

Maybe you were trying to adjust your bracket with a pencil, which popped the bracket loose, and before you know it – the bracket goes down the hatch!

Or maybe you bit into a piece of candy that resides on the “do not eat with braces” list. Either way, now you’ve got a bracket in your stomach. 

Will you get sick? Here’s everything you need to know about what happens if you swallow a bracket or swallow a retainer wire. 

Will a swallowed bracket make me sick?

No, 9 times out of 10, swallowing a bracket will not make a person sick. Brackets are so small that they typically pass through the digestive system naturally: through the esophagus, down to the stomach, through the intestines, and out through the rectum.  

Braces are made of high-grade stainless steel or ceramic materials that shouldn’t upset your stomach as a bracket travels through the body. 

What do I do if I swallow a bracket?

Step 1: Keep calm, cool and collected.

Don’t panic if you swallow your bracket. You’re not going to die and everything will be okay! More often than not, stomach acids will dissolve as much of the bracket as they can, and the rest will end up in the toilet. 

Step 2: Be cautious of any symptoms you experience.

Stay cognizant of any symptoms that appear around your body. In the event that you experience any challenging symptoms (difficulty breathing, chest pain, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting), have someone take you to the emergency room or call an ambulance immediately. 

Step 3: Schedule an appointment with your orthodontist!

Assuming the bracket passed naturally and no health complications occurred, you can schedule an appointment with our team at Insoft & Hurst Orthodontics to have your bracket repaired. 

We want to get you back on track with your orthodontic treatment as soon as possible to prevent your teeth from shifting out of place. One missing bracket shouldn’t affect your treatment progress, as long as it’s replaced relatively quickly.

In the meantime, if your missing bracket creates an irritating piece or wire on your braces, use some orthodontic wax to cover the sharp end or poking wire. Ortho wax can come in handy for a number of scenarios during your braces treatment

How long does it take to digest a bracket?

A small object such as your metal bracket goes the same route as your food. Meaning it’s broken down into pieces or dissolved completely in your stomach by acids and passed safely within a day or two. If you’re especially worried about passing your braces bracket, be sure to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods and consult your primary care physician for more expert advice.

What to do if you swallow a retainer wire

If you swallow a braces wire or retainer wire, again – don’t panic. The wire will likely be passed naturally – the same way that a bracket would pass. Studies show that “once a foreign object reaches the stomach, it has an 80% to 90% possibility of passing through the gut with no problems. Less than 1% of foreign bodies have caused a perforation” (JBR Journal of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Dental Science).

In a case report published by the JBR Journal of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Dental Science, a young patient swallowed part of his braces archwire. Doctors planned to remove it via surgical procedure, but the archwire passed through the digestive system before they were able to.

Just be cautious of any signs or symptoms that would indicate the wire penetrated your body, consider reaching out to your primary care provider for their opinion, and wait for the piece to pass naturally. 

Consider other treatment options!

If you’re concerned about experienced a ‘braces emergency’, or would rather eliminate the chances of breaking a bracket altogether, consider Invisalign clear aligners instead! While it’s rare that patients swallow brackets, we still want you to know all of our options and choose the right one for you.

Invisalign uses high-quality, custom-designed, plastic aligners – no metal necessary. We’re proud to be Top 1% Diamond Invisalign providers, meaning we’ve earned our spot in the Top 1% of all Invisalign orthodontists in the world. In fact, Dr. Insoft and Dr. Hurst have treated more Invisalign cases in the last 15 years than any other Invisalign providers in Pinellas and Manatee Counties!

Ask us about Invisalign at your complimentary consultation. We’re here to help you make the right decision for your smile.

The Bottom Line

So, the answer to: “what happens if you swallow a small piece of metal like a bracket” is probably (and fortunately) nothing! 

Many people have swallowed braces brackets, and most of those people didn’t even feel the bracket pass. Your stomach acids will break down a good portion (if not all) of anything you swallow. 

With any piece of metal or sharp material swallowed, do not make yourself vomit. If you try to vomit the piece back up, it could cut an organ on the way up! 

It’s best to go to the emergency room if you fear that the piece may need to be removed from your stomach or from anywhere in your body.

If you have any questions about braces ‘emergencies’ or what to do in certain situations, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit to your last appointment. 

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Seminole or St. Petersburg FL, we’d love to meet you! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.

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