Kitsap Kid's Dentistry

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No pain, no gain.

Surely, you’ve heard that phrase before.

It implies that without a degree of pain (or maybe more accurately, discomfort) you won’t achieve worthwhile goals.

It certainly applies to braces. After all, let’s be honest: the pressure that braces apply to teeth can be hard to get used to.

But braces should never be truly painful. If you ever feel sharp, shooting pain from a wire or feel loose or broken brackets that are jutting into the inside of the cheeks causing cuts and mouth sores, it’s probably time to schedule an orthodontist appointment.

Before your appointment, you can use dental wax, otherwise known as orthodontic wax, or wax for braces, to provide both protection and pain relief.

Why Do You Need Wax for Braces?

Before diving into details about how to use orthodontic wax, or braces wax, let’s address this common question we get from patients: “What is braces wax for?”

Simply put, braces wax is a tool you can use to alleviate pain that occurs when components of dental brace hardware fail. This type of hardware failure is classified as a dental emergency.

How to Use Wax for Braces

If a broken wire or bracket can be removed, remove it. If it can’t, or if there are still sharp objects protruding, you can cover the area with dental wax. Here’s how:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Brush your teeth.
  3. Pinch off a piece of wax about the size of a small pea.
  4. Squeeze until it softens and roll it into a ball, then flatten the ball slightly.
  5. 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.

We also recommend drying your braces with a piece of paper towel, cotton ball, or close-textured washcloth after rolling wax into a ball and before applying to the problem area. Doing so will help the wax adhere longer until you’re able to visit your orthodontist.

If you can’t get to see your orthodontist right away, you can safely wear dental wax for up to two days or until it falls off.

 

What’s the Best Wax for Braces?

Brand isn’t necessarily important. What is important is finding a braces wax that is safe and effective.

Most dental waxes are made from:

  • Paraffin wax
  • Beeswax
  • Carnauba wax

All of these types of braces wax are generally recognized as being safe to use orally, so we recommend choosing a wax material that you feel most comfortable with.

For instance, if you live a vegan lifestyle, you may wish to avoid beeswax. If you’re concerned about using petroleum-based wax in your mouth, on the other hand, beeswax may be the better choice for you.

Ultimately, the type of wax that will work best for you is more of a matter of personal preference than efficacy or safety.

Other Methods to Treat Discomfort from Braces

Wax can be used to treat broken braces that may cause serious pain or discomfort otherwise. But there are many other non-dental emergency situations that cause pain or discomfort that wax may not help with.

According to the American Academy of Orthodontists, here are some other methods of treating mouth discomfort caused by braces:

  • Dental Floss: Used to remove food particles that have become wedged between teeth or in hard-to-reach areas in braces.
  • Tweezers: Used to adjust wires. Just be sure to sanitize or clean before using in the mouth.
  • Interproximal Brushes: Used traditionally to reach gaps between teeth similar to floss, but can also be used to carefully clean in-between the archwire and braces brackets and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Topical Anesthetic: Popular topical oral anesthetics like Orabase and Ora-Gel may be used to alleviate pressure/discomfort from braces, especially in the beginning stages. They may also be used for some types of cuts or mouth sores, providing temporary pain relief.
  • Over-the-counter Pain Relievers: Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, and other OTC drugs may be used to alleviate the pain associated with new braces. They also may be helpful after a follow-up appointment when braces are tightened.
  • Warm Saltwater Rinse: A warm saltwater rinse can be soothing. It can also help fight bad bacteria if wires from braces have caused mouth sores or cuts. (1 tsp. salt to 8 oz. warm water)