Braces are a fact of life, and while occasionally uncomfortable, will ultimately help you get the smile you deserve. But sometimes, you may experience a scratchy, uncomfortable feeling due to wires pressing against your gums. That’s where dental wax comes in, a special wax you can have on hand that will provide relief and prevents pain. Here’s a look at what orthodontic wax is, how to put it on, and how it can ease your braces discomfort.
Dental wax is made from natural waxes and sometimes contains a few extra ingredients for texture and flavor, like mint. Some dental wax products are made from beeswax or carnauba wax, while others are made from microcrystalline or paraffin wax1 derived from petroleum. What’s important to note is that orthodontic wax is natural and safe to have in your mouth. According to the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, it's entirely normal for patients to accidentally eat a little wax if it falls off while speaking or chewing.
The unique properties of dental wax make it perfect for protecting your gums from the metal edges of braces. The wax is solid at room temperature but can be softened and shaped by the warmth of your hands. When smoothed onto the braces that irritate, it sticks to them and creates a buffer between the brackets and the gums. Dental wax remains smooth while in the mouth and harmlessly flakes away or peels off as it breaks down.
Whether you're protecting your gums from new braces or sticking down a piece of protruding wire, the procedure for applying dental wax is the same:
- Wash your hands
- Brush all of your teeth
- Pinch off a piece of wax about the size of a small pea
- Squeeze until it softens and roll it into a ball, then flatten the ball slightly
- Gently push the wax onto the problem area of the braces. You can also use your tongue to adjust the wax if it’s helpful.
Keep in mind, if your wire continues to protrude or become out of place, contact your orthodontist so that they can adjust it. If you run out of dental wax, you can buy more at a pharmacy. You can use an interdental stick or floss to remove it, but take care not to damage your braces or gums.
As far as how long dental wax should stay in place, you can wear it overnight and replace the wax as needed, though you should replace it every two days. While you can eat and drink with wax, you should remove it if food becomes stuck or the wax gets dirty.
You can remove the wax and then brush your teeth and make sure you clean the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Brush twice a day, and use your floss or interdental cleaning device to clean between the teeth. Rinse with a mouthrinse with fluoride to strengthen the teeth while wearing braces.
Many people get braces—and while sometimes unpleasant, they’re an essential tool in helping you achieve a confident, straight smile. Dental wax is safe, natural, and helpful during those unpleasant times when wires become loose or you experience irritation, and can make your braces experience less uncomfortable. If you need assistance applying dental wax, ask your orthodontist to show you. Otherwise, know that you have a simple tool on hand that can improve your braces experience.
1. Carmel Industries Blog "Uses and Application of Orthodontic Wax"