Dental Braces: What's A Buccal Tube, And Why Might It Fall Off?

Posted on: 26 April 2022

Dental braces contain multiple parts, all working in harmony to exert consistent pressure on your teeth to gradually reposition them. This pressure is delivered via the archwires, which curve around the outward-facing surfaces of your upper and lower sets of teeth, and are attached to the teeth with brackets. The end of the archwire is housed in what's called a buccal tube, which is a small metal tube bonded to your first molar. It can be frustrating when your buccal tube keeps detaching.  

An Uncomfortable Problem

A detached buccal tube isn't a major concern, but it can disrupt your orthodontic treatment until it's reattached. It can also be uncomfortable. Without the housing of the buccal tube, the end of the archwire can irritate (or even lacerate) the soft lining of your mouth. If your detached buccal tube has resulted in your archwire causing discomfort, you should apply a small amount of dental wax to the tip of the wire. This isn't a permanent solution but will manage your discomfort until you're able to see your orthodontist, which should be as soon as possible. It's not an emergency but is still a reasonably urgent matter.

Reattaching the Buccal Tube

In most cases, your orthodontist will simply re-bond the buccal tube to your molar. They will, of course, look for causes for the detachment. The misalignment of your teeth can lead to unnatural biomechanical forces being experienced. Certain teeth may be under more pressure than they ordinarily would be. This cause can be self-correcting, with your buccal tube no longer experiencing this excessive pressure as the alignment of your bite gradually corrects itself. It must be pointed out that your diet can also cause the detachment of a buccal tube. Foods that are too sticky or chewy can easily pull a buccal tube from its molar.

Substituting the Buccal Tube

Ideally, anyone with a detached buccal tube will only need to have it re-bonded once, without the issue repeating itself in the future. Repeated detachments can mean that your orthodontist will need to reassess their approach. Fortunately, modern orthodontics has a few options. Your orthodontist may replace the tube with a molar band, which serves the same purpose. This is a band that is stretched around the entire tooth and helps to keep the end of the archwire in the correct position. A molar band can be a little uncomfortable at first, but your mouth will rapidly become desensitized to the presence of the band around your tooth.

A detached buccal tube is a minor, common problem for people with braces. Even so, its prompt reattachment is essential, and if you should have to deal with repeated detachments, your orthodontist may need to suggest an alternative.

Contact your orthodontist to learn more.