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 toughen up to create a resistance against the rubbing.

wax for braces

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. Take an appropriate amount of wax – it needs to be large enough to cover the bracket, as well as be moulded above/below the bracket. If it is too small, it will not adhere.

Prepare the wax by warming or rubbing it between your fingers and moulding it into a small rectangular shape to cover the bracket as well as the undercuts above/below the bracket..

Dry the bracket and surrounding area with tissue paper or a cotton wool bud or ball as thoroughly as possible – if there is any moisture, the wax may not adhere to the bracket. Apply the softened wax around the bracket and press it into place.

Can you sleep with orthodontic wax?

Yes, orthodontic wax can be used at night and applied prior to going to sleep. You may find that applying wax to areas that are causing discomfort can help you get a better night’s rest.

Is orthodontic wax safe to swallow?

Yes, your orthodontic wax is safe to swallow. While we don’t recommend snacking on your supply, swallowing a small amount can happen naturally and is nothing to be alarmed about. The wax is non-toxic and will naturally pass through your system without you even noticing.

Can you put orthodontic wax on a broken tooth?

If you chip or break a tooth, dental wax can be a good solution to avoid cutting your tongue or the inside of your mouth while you wait for your appointment with your dentist. Clean and dry the area before placing a small amount of wax over the edge to smooth. This is not a long term or permanent solution and you should seek advice from your general dentist as soon as possible. Your dental wax can not be used to reattach your tooth.

Can you use orthodontic wax for clear aligners (such as Invisalign?)

Absolutely. While clear aligners are less likely to hurt the inside of your mouth and gums than traditional braces, if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, using a piece of dental wax should help. Press the wax gently to the offending area in the manner described above.

Toothache relief with orthodontic wax

Toothache can be caused by many things – gum disease, tooth grinding, tooth decay – and most of these ailments won’t respond to orthodontic wax. On the other hand, if a damaged filling or chipped or cracked tooth is the cause of your toothache, orthodontic wax may help you manage the sensitivity and pain in the short term. If you have a cracked or damaged tooth, please book a consult with your general dentist as soon as you can to have it repaired.

Are there alternatives to orthodontic wax?

If you’re experiencing discomfort but have found that you’re out of wax for braces, there are some temporary solutions you can try. A small amount of sugar-free chewing gum rolled into a small ball and applied in the same way as your regular wax can be a helpful solution, but this should only be temporary. Wax and chewing gum are not the same in the long run.

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 non-toxic.

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 specialist orthodontist near you using our Finder Tool.

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