Medicine
Fact Checked

What Is Orthodontic Wax?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Orthodontic wax is an oral care product for patients who experience pain and irritation while wearing braces. As the teeth migrate and an orthodontist adjusts the braces, the patient may develop hot spots of irritation along the gums and inner cheeks. The orthodontic wax can be applied to the braces to limit poking and scratching. Oral care providers typically sell this product and it comes in a variety of sizes, including portable containers for patients who want to be able to carry it with them.

Most manufacturers of orthodontic wax produce a clear product that will not be readily visible in the mouth. To use it, the patient takes a small chunk and flattens it out. The flattened piece of wax can be stuck to a protruding wire or other component of the patient's braces. It covers the metal and will prevent scratching. Patients can leave the wax on until it starts to soften and flake or fall off.

Orthodontic wax prevents braces from pressing into a patient's lips.
Orthodontic wax prevents braces from pressing into a patient's lips.

This product is safe to digest, as manufacturers know it can fall off and patients may accidentally swallow it. While eating large amounts of orthodontic wax is not advised, swallowing small amounts inadvertently shouldn't be a cause for concern. If the patient continues to experience pain and irritation while using wax, there may be a problem with the braces and an orthodontist should inspect them. She can adjust the braces if necessary, remove damaged components that might be hurting the patient, and check for oral health problems like ulcers and cavities.

Some patients use mouth guards in addition to orthodontic wax.
Some patients use mouth guards in addition to orthodontic wax.

When patients first get their braces, they will experience some oral pain and the doctor should offer mild analgesics to control it. As their teeth adjust, they can determine if they need orthodontic wax. Sometimes patients can feel poking and scratching, and in other cases they may notice sore spots in their mouths opposite or near their braces. They can apply wax as needed; some patients like to wear it overnight to provide protection and give their mouths a chance to heal.

Orthodontists may choose the best method for straightening a patient's misaligned teeth.
Orthodontists may choose the best method for straightening a patient's misaligned teeth.

In addition to orthodontic wax, patients can also use mouth guards while wearing braces, particularly at night. Lip and bite guards can help hold the teeth in position and limit irritation from protruding components of braces. With more experience, patients will also learn to distinguish between the different kinds of pain and irritation so they can determine if pain is a sign of a serious problem, or just irritation associated with a new brace adjustment. Many orthodontists are willing to provide a quick checkup for a new patient without charging if he has concerns about oral pain.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon255204

But how do you take off the wax? I used it overnight and now it won't come off because it got all soft.

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    • Orthodontic wax prevents braces from pressing into a patient's lips.
      By: nobeastsofierce
      Orthodontic wax prevents braces from pressing into a patient's lips.
    • Some patients use mouth guards in addition to orthodontic wax.
      By: deeaf
      Some patients use mouth guards in addition to orthodontic wax.
    • Orthodontists may choose the best method for straightening a patient's misaligned teeth.
      By: michaeljung
      Orthodontists may choose the best method for straightening a patient's misaligned teeth.