Orthodontic Wax: What It Is, Why You Need It, & How to Use It Properly

You’ve recently started with your braces and you’re on your way to the straight teeth and smile you have always wanted. Congratulations on taking this step!

The orthodontist has probably given you all the instructions about caring for the braces or aligners and your teeth themselves throughout your treatment plan. You know there will be challenges along the way, but those challenges will be worth the result. One tool they may have mentioned before you left the orthodontist’s office was orthodontic wax (aka braces wax). 

This article will outline exactly what this wax is, why you will need it, and some tips on how to use it effectively. 

So, What is Orthodontic Wax Exactly?

Whether it’s called orthodontic wax, braces wax, or dental wax, this product is one you should keep on hand whether you’re at home or out and about. The wax is a pliable substance, usually made from beeswax, paraffin, carnauba, or microcrystalline. It comes in colorless strips from which you break a tiny piece and place it wherever you need it. Its purpose is to provide a barrier between a wire, bracket, or aligner edge that is rubbing the soft tissue in your mouth. 

The wax is non-toxic, safe even if you inadvertently swallow a bit, and doesn’t have any harmful effect on the braces, either. A fun fact is that many companies even sell the wax in scented flavors

Why Do I Need Braces Wax?

No matter what kind of braces you are wearing, there will be times when they rub against the soft tissues in your mouth. With any kind of metal or ceramic braces (including lingual braces) or clear aligners, this usually happens when the braces are first put in your mouth, as well as when any new pieces are put on or you switch to a new set of aligners. This isn’t unusual.

But, the good thing is, you don’t have to suffer through it. Orthodontic wax is the answer! It effectively stops the irritating piece of your braces or aligner edge from touching your mouth until you get used to it. The wax prevents further rubbing of your cheeks, lips, and tongue while providing time for any minor irritation to heal. The tissue then has time to toughen up just enough to get used to the braces.

You may experience a wire on the braces becoming loose or breaking. Until you can get to your orthodontist for a quick repair, the wax is handy to stop the wire from poking the inside of your mouth. 

Now that you know more about the wax and its purpose, let’s talk about tips on using the wax most effectively.

How To Use Orthodontic Wax Properly

As you can see, this orthodontic tool is very handy, but there are some tips to keep in mind for using it effectively: 

Brush Your Teeth Before Applying Wax

Food particles can hide between your teeth or along your gumline, so it’s important to brush them away first. You don’t want the wax to trap food against your braces, which then encourages bacteria to quickly build up in those spots.

Wash Your Hands Before Using Wax

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap before handling the wax. Dry with a paper towel or a clean cloth. This is a good practice any time you are touching your mouth anyway. Bacteria is always present at some level, but you want to eliminate as much as possible before breaking off a piece of wax and putting it in your mouth, especially if the skin is broken or scraped.

Dry the Area in Your Mouth Before Placing the Wax

Now that your teeth and hands are clean, use a soft cloth to dry the area inside your mouth where you will be putting a small piece of wax. If the spot is wet, the wax may not properly stick.

Break Off Just a Small Piece Of Wax

A small pea-sized piece is usually all that is needed. It will cover the spot in your mouth that has become irritated. If you use too much, you will be uncomfortable and the excess will fall off anyway. The wax isn’t very expensive, but you don’t want to waste it either.

Warm the Wax First

As with any wax, it will be stiff at first and need to be more pliable before you can use it. Roll it between your fingers until the wax warms enough to easily manipulate. Then apply it in your mouth where it is needed.

Replace the Wax in Your Mouth Frequently

This means after eating but at least twice a day, for as long as you need it. If it falls off, replace it with new wax. Don’t reuse wax. There is too much chance of contamination if you put used wax back in your mouth.

One reminder: If a raw, irritated spot in your mouth isn’t improving, call your orthodontist for instructions as soon as possible. There is no need to suffer any longer than what is considered normal. If you’re not sure what normal is, call and ask.

Keep the Wax in Overnight

As you sleep, your mouth has a great deal of time to heal, so leave the wax in place overnight. Just make sure to put some new wax in after you brush your teeth in the morning.

Check Your Mouth Frequently For Problem Spots

You can stop an irritated area from becoming broken skin if you notice it soon enough. So make sure to check your mouth once a day. Look for swollen areas or bright red spots. Think about any tender areas you are experiencing. This daily assessment will identify problem areas early. 

As soon as you notice or feel one of these areas, use wax to keep it under control early. Don’t worry, you can’t overuse braces wax.

Don’t Adjust Wires or Brackets or Bend Aligners Yourself

It would be natural for you to try to bend or adjust the piece of your braces or aligner that is poking the inside of your mouth. Don’t! The braces represent a significant investment of money and time so don’t jeopardize that investment by risking breaking them. 

Use wax until you can get to your orthodontist’s office. They will make any adjustments that are needed without further damaging the braces or aligners. 

Orthodontic Wax: An Essential Tool in Your Braces Care Toolbox

As you work toward your new, straight teeth, braces wax will become a welcome part of the process. There is no doubt you may be slightly uncomfortable at times, but it will be worth it! Orthodontic wax can lessen some of the irritation you may experience along the way. It is inexpensive, natural, and easy to use. 

Here at White Plains Orthodontics, we specialize in helping both adults and teens achieve a straight, beautiful smile through effective treatment with traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign clear aligners. Our team stands ready to assist if you need help learning how to use braces wax and to answer any questions. Contact us today!