Sometimes, the discomfort patients experience can be associated with rubbing of the brace or wire against the cheek – if this is the cause, orthodontic wax can act as a smooth buffer to relieve this. Orthodontic wax will be provided to you as required throughout your orthodontic treatment at Simply Orthodontics. It can also be found in chemists and supermarkets!
Orthodontic wax is an opaque hydrophobic material that is hard on presentation but becomes soft and malleable when warmed up with your fingers. It comes as several strips in a small case and only a small piece of wax is required. Being hydrophobic, it is in immediate odds with the moist environment that is your mouth. We often hear from patients that they have trouble getting the wax to stay on and this is one of the drawbacks of orthodontic wax.
However, it is very useful in providing a physical barrier between the brace and the buccal mucosa (inside of your cheek) and in doing so, gives the affected buccal mucosa time to heal. Using the wax in combination with salt water rinses and generally reducing mouth movements (to prevent further irritation) can help you manage this type of discomfort.
A word of caution, your buccal mucosa and soft tissue will harden up to the constant presence of the braces and in order for this resistance to be built up, try not to use the orthodontic wax unless you really need it. If the waxy barrier is always present, the affected mucosa area cannot truly harden up and you might find yourself always in need of orthodontic wax!
How to use orthodontic wax
- Identify brace(s) causing discomfort to buccal mucosa.
- Pinch a piece of orthodontic wax and warm with your fingers until it is soft and malleable.
- Shape wax into a rectangular shape. The idea is to encase the brace within the wax.
- Dry brace(s) with a piece of paper towel. Cotton wool will wrap around braces and get caught; tissue paper may not hold the moisture content as well as paper towel. This is the most important step. The area needs to be dry or the hydrophobic wax will not stick/stay on.
- Wrap the prepared softened wax over the dry brace(s) and ensure wax is not moving around.
- Try not to move the wax or play with it as this may dislodge the wax.
You will most likely have to reapply the orthodontic wax to the area several times in a day because it can be dislodged with eating, speaking and general tongue movement. It is not toxic so if you do accidentally ingest it, there is no need to be too concerned. You can certainly eat with the wax on but it is always good practice to remove all orthodontic wax or elastics prior to eating.
- If you notice that there is a significant amount of ridging along your buccal mucosa and it is sore, it is likely that several braces are involved. A neat trick is to use half a strip of wax, soften it into a rectangle roughly the length of the braces and encasing the braces as a whole. That way one piece of wax covers all the braces that are rubbing against the mucosa.
I find that my cheeks wrap around my braces when I wake up in the morning?
Often the way we sleep can affect where the sore spots are! When you sleep, you don’t usually move around very much and at times you’ll be sleeping on the side of your face. This means the buccal mucosa and braces get squished together and this makes for a rather awkward and unpleasant way to wake up (especially if you’ve had extractions!) While there is no real way of preventing this, you could try to go to sleep on your back and hope you wake up in the same position! Be reassured that this is not uncommon and it will not persist as your mucosa and soft tissues will ‘harden’ up to the braces.
We are always very happy to help and if you have any difficulties with using orthodontic wax, give us a call on 1300 ORTHOS (1300 678 467) and make an appointment to see one of our Clinical Assistants or Hygienists who can walk you through how to use orthodontic wax effectively.