What is orthodontic wax and does my child need it?

If your child is getting braces, your orthodontist will supply orthodontic wax to help ease discomfort. But what is it and how vital is orthodontic wax for their treatment? Read on to discover more about this orthodontic aid.

When you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment, in particular traditional metal and ceramic braces, you may experience discomfort as the brackets (or braces) rub against the inside of your lips, cheeks or tongue. While the discomfort may pass shortly as your mouth becomes accustomed to the new sensations, some people do experience some pain and may need orthodontic wax to help.

What is orthodontic wax?

Orthodontic wax acts as a barrier between your braces and your lips, cheek or tongue. It is an opaque substance that becomes soft and malleable, allowing it to be placed around the offending bracket to stop it from irritating your cheek.

When to use orthodontic wax

Your child will not require orthodontic wax for the entirety of their treatment, but rather should use it as an aid to ease discomfort for small periods of time. As you get used to the sensation of braces being in your mouth, your soft tissues harden up to create a resistance against the rubbing.

How to use orthodontic wax

Orthodontic wax is made from a hydrophobic (or water repellent) material, making it tricky to use in your mouth’s moist environment. As such, you need to properly prepare your mouth for the wax application.

First, identify which bracket is causing discomfort. Prepare a small piece of wax by warming or rubbing it between your fingers and moulding it into a small rectangular shape to cover the bracket.

Dry the bracket and surrounding area with paper towel or gauze as thoroughly as possible – if there is moisture the wax may not adhere to the bracket. Wrap the softened wax around the bracket and press into place.

Other considerations

You may need to reapply your orthodontic wax throughout the day as you eat and speak. If you’re concerned about swallowing it, don’t worry because it is not toxic. However, you may wish to remove it prior to eating.

You can also encourage the irritated area of the mouth to heal and avoid ulcers by rinsing your mouth with salt water at least once a day. This will help your mouth adjust to the treatment as well.

Whether your child requires orthodontic wax may depend on their level of discomfort, but you can ask your orthodontist for more information about whether you should get some. Often, we find that the discomfort passes within a day or two as the cheek starts to heal.

For more information about orthodontics for kids and teens, you can download our free ebook. If your child hasn’t yet started their treatment, you can search for an ASO registered orthodontist near you using our Finder Tool.

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