Broken Bracket On Braces? The 3 Things You NEED To Do

Breaking a bracket is a common experience when you have braces. Don’t panic, we’ve got you covered. Find out what to do, how to get it fixed, what to do before then, and how to stop it happening again!

What Is A Broken Bracket?

A broken bracket means that bracket attached to your tooth becomes loose. It can still be attached to the wire, but either completely free from the tooth or just a little loose. Technically the bracket itself isn’t broken, it’s the glue.

It’s also known as a loose bracket, detached bracket, or a floating bracket. You can have multiple broken brackets, or even a bent or snapped wire at the same time. Don’t worry if this happens, we can help guide you through the fix.

What Does A Broken Bracket Look Like?

Braces Broken Brackets - Loose Bracket - What To Do If Your Break A Bracket
You can see the brackets that are loose and not attached to the tooth they’re supposed to be

What To Do When A Bracket Breaks Off

Call Your Dentist

Call the dentist that you are getting your treatment with immediately and let them know what has happened. Try to get an appointment in the next few days. Most treatment providers have some space set aside for emergencies like this.

At the appointment, they will remove the bracket and probably the wire too. They’ll then remove the adhesive left on the tooth by polishing, cleaning, and drying the tooth, and preparing it for a new bracket. This is exactly like what happened when you first got your braces.

A new bracket will then be placed with new adhesive, and either the old wire or a new wire will be put back into place. The appointment should be fairly short, normally under 10 minutes. You can do a few things in the meantime before the appointment to help yourself out.

Place Wax On The Bracket

Using a lump of braces wax about the size of two or three peas, roll it up a few times first to make it malleable with the warmth of your hands. Push the bracket to where it should be, then cover it and the brackets on either side with the wax.

Push the wax in a little and make sure it sticks properly. The idea is to keep it from moving and irritating your gums. You will need to take it out when you eat so you don’t swallow the wax accidentally. Reapply new wax when needed.

Clip Loose Wire

If this doesn’t work, use orthodontic wax around the end of the wire to try and cover it or push the bracket back into place temporarily. It’s safe to leave braces wax on overnight.

What happens when you break a bracket on your braces

What Causes A Broken Bracket?

Eating Hard, Sticky, Or Crunchy Foods

If you’ve been biting into things that are hard, you can push the bracket straight off of your tooth. Sticky and chewy foods can stick to the bracket, and when you open your mouth, the bracket pops off.

Take a look at our list of food to avoid with braces and make sure you know what is safe to eat. Chewing ice and pen lids are also big no’s while you are wearing braces.


Sometimes your braces are meant to fix the misalignment of your teeth like an over or underbite. During the time this is still being fixed, your bite may naturally push on your braces. That can lead to a broken bracket, or your grinding your teeth against the brackets – leading to chips.

Sometimes this is unavoidable and you might need to chew more softly or eat soup and other soft foods for a while. It can be more likely to happen with power chains as extra sideways force is applied.

Sometimes you will have a bite bracket or bite turbo installed that will stop your teeth from meeting. This can be very awkward and hard to eat with but it can fix bite issues quickly and avoid bracket breaks.

Tooth Grinding

If you grind your teeth in your sleep or without thinking, that pressure can cause brackets to peel off. This is especially so with jaw misalignment as in the above section. There isn’t much you can do while you sleep but try to be conscious and stop grinding if you do it habitually.

If you grind your teeth in your sleep or without thinking, that pressure can cause brackets to peel off. This is especially so with jaw misalignment as in the above section. There isn’t much you can do while you sleep but try to be conscious and stop grinding if you do it habitually.

Poor Bonding

When your ortho puts the braces on with the adhesive, your teeth need to be absolutely clean and dry. The glue also needs to set perfectly. If there is even a slight problem then a bracket can be quite easy to pop off.

If you weren’t sitting still enough at the appointment this is more likely to become an issue. When you go back to get it fixed they’ll probably do a little testing to make sure it works better this time, or might use a different bonding agent.

Impact & Sports

Brackets can literally get knocked off of your teeth if you play contact sports like Rugby or American Football. If this happens, it’s worth scheduling an appointment to fix the bracket but also speak to a general dentist to take a look and see if the tooth itself was damaged by the impact.

Broken Bracket VS Loose Bracket

These are the same thing. Even if a bracket it still partly stuck to a tooth, it still needs to be fixed as it won’t be doing it’s job. A fully loose bracket is a broken bracket, we just use that as the term even though the bracket itself is intact.

Braces Broken Brackets - Bracket Slipped off of the back tooth
Here the last bracket broke off of the tooth and then slid off. That wire can be annoying so either clip it, cover it in wax, or bend it towards the teeth – away from the gums

Why Is A Broken Bracket Bad?

The bracket on each tooth is meant to either to move that specific tooth, or to be used as an anchor for moving others. Most of the time, it’s both. When it’s loose or broken off, it can cause a few issues which prolong treatment and can be painful.

Stops Movement

When it’s broken, that tooth will no longer move into the right position. Also, other teeth that were moving because of the anchor pushing or pulling the wire won’t move.

Basically it stops movement – either completely or partially. It can also cause incorrect movement if left for too long. That means the braces could push your teeth the wrong way!

Wire Poking

A loose bracket on the back teeth can leave the arch wire looser, meaning it pokes into your gums. That can be really painful. Use orthodontic wax to completely cover the end of the wire and avoid the pain.

You can also clip the wire close to the last bracket. Use nail scissors and be really careful not to hurt yourself or swallow that little bit of wire. If you can’t, you might be able to bend the wire out of the way.

Loose Bracket

When the bracket becomes loose, it can spin around and irritate your gum. If you have traditional braces you might be able to pull the rubber band off and remove the bracket. Take care not to swallow it or let it go down your throat.

If it’s at the back of your mouth you might be able to slide it off. If you can’t remove the loose bracket, don’t worry. Cover it and keep it in place with some orthodontic wax to stop it from rubbing for now.

How To Fix A Broken Bracket

You can’t fix a broken braces bracket at home by yourself. It’s possible to remove the bracket if it’s annoying, clip a pokey wire, or use wax to stop it moving though. Use our tips above but most importantly, get an appointment to have it fixed.

Braces Broken Brackets - What to do if bracket breaks
A classic example of a loose bracket that can now freely slide side-to-side. These are Damon self-ligating braces which are harder to remove yourself

How Long Can You Go With A Loose Bracket?

Going a week or two with a loose bracket is basically fine as long as you aren’t experiencing any braces pain. However, you should make an appointment to get it fixed as soon as possible. Don’t let a broken bracket go too long because you are busy or can’t be bothered.

If you are on holiday and a bracket breaks: call your provider and ask if they would be happy with a local orthodontist seeing you to fix the problem. If they agree, find a good local orthodontist and see if they can help. You’ll still need to see the original ortho to make sure everything is fine when you get home.

Will I Get Charged If I Break A Bracket? Broken Bracket Cost

Normally you won’t have to pay if you break a bracket. Orthodontists expect it to happen every so often, especially with younger children who aren’t good at picking the right braces foods.

However, if you are breaking brackets constantly and obviously eating things that are too hard or sticky – you may be charged, depending on your provider. So far in over a year’s treatment, I’ve not broken a single bracket. I know a few people who’ve had it happen once or twice with no issues or charges from their dentist.

At the end of the day, having a braces bracket loose or a floating braces bracket is a pain – but a common thing that you can deal with. Whether you have to pay for a loose bracket to be fixed is up to your provider, though likely free for the first couple of times.