What is dental wax, and why should you use it? Your orthodontist may suggest dental wax to help with issues related to your braces. Though the idea of putting wax in your mouth may seem weird, orthodontic wax is specifically meant for braces and is safe to be used orally.
Braces are recommended for people who have crooked or misaligned teeth, but because they are usually made of metal, they can damage sensitive gum and mouth tissue. These tiny cuts and abrasions inside your mouth may not be noticeable right away, but constant irritation will get uncomfortable quickly.
Dental wax comes to the rescue! Wax for braces is used in very small quantities to cover brackets and protruding wires to provide a smooth surface.
Let's get into the details about mouth wax and how to use it.
Table of contents
What is dental wax?
Essentially, dental wax is an organic compound of fatty acids that's derived from natural or synthetic components, or a blend of both. Natural waxes are obtained from sources like plants, or animals. Synthetic waxes are lab formulated from natural wax molecules in addition to other chemical elements.
Most dental waxes contain almost 40–60% paraffin (by weight), and additives like resins, oils, fats, and colors are added to give wax a smooth surface, which is exactly what you want when it comes to braces and your mouth.
Here’s a table that will give you an idea of the different components in dental wax. Each component has its own physical properties. You can find out your dental wax’s components from the package or ask your orthodontist.
Type of dental wax
Mineral-based (such as paraffin)
Additives improve smoothness and make them more resistant to cracking and flaking
Plant-based (such as carnauba and cocoa butter)
Generally harder than mineral-based waxes; strong odor; glossy
Animal-based (such as beeswax)
Brittle at room temperature but becomes flexible at body temperature; not suitable for vegans
Components include polyethelene, polyoxyethylene, halogenated hydrocarbon, and hydrogenated waxes.
Properties similar to paraffin
In addition to these common types of dental waxes, various specialty waxes offer the different (and some say better) properties and textures. Common specialty waxes include baseplate wax, casting wax, sticky wax, utility wax, boxing and beading waxes, and impression wax. All of these wax types have their own blends of natural and synthetic components and thus have different properties.
How do I apply wax to my braces?
The short answer is to pinch off a ball of wax and stick it to your braces, but there's a little more to it than that if you want to protect your gums from new braces. Dental wax or braces wax is often composed of natural waxes. The texture and taste of the wax can vary, but the procedure to apply ortho wax usually remains the same.
Step 1: Choose your dental wax
After fitting your braces, your orthodontist will give you a pack of essential supplies, and dental wax would ideally be included in it. If not, you can always buy one from your dentist or a pharmacy.
Usually, orthodontists apply mouth wax after fitting braces as a preventative measure, but it will come loose over time. If there is still wax on your braces, gently use a toothpick to remove the old wax before applying new.
Step 2: Wash your hands
To apply the wax, first scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry them thoroughly. This will prevent bacteria and germs.
Step 3: Brush your teeth
To reduce bacteria build-up, brush and floss your teeth properly prior to wax application.
Step 4: Shape a small ball of wax
Open a new pack of dental wax and pull off a small amount (maybe start with 1/4 of an inch and use more if needed). It will easily pinch off, and then you roll it into a ball just like you would with clay. It should be just enough to cover the braces bracket or wire. Roll the wax with your fingers for at least five seconds so it becomes soft.
Step 5: Apply the wax to the problematic area
Use your thumb or forefinger to press the ball of wax over the bracket or wire.
Step 6: Final check
Lastly, rub the wax a couple of times to ensure it sticks properly. It should feel like a small bump.
Step 7: Allow the wax to work
After application, the wax will cover the pointy edges of the braces and the sore spots in your mouth will start to heal on their own. The wax will act as a barrier and stop the irritation.
Even after you’ve applied the wax, there are some important considerations. If it starts chipping off, replace the wax immediately with new wax. However, even if it stays in place, the wax should still be changed every one to two days because food particles can stick to it, which may lead to bacterial buildup in your mouth—gross.
Ideally, you should avoid eating or drinking when you have wax on your braces because it does have a tendency to flake off as you chew or drink very hot liquids. Don't worry if you accidentally consume tiny amounts—it's harmless.
To get a better idea, watch this short video explaining how to apply dental wax to braces.
Where to buy dental wax
Tooth wax is available at your nearest drugstore. While your orthodontist may have a preferred brand, it's usually fine to use a substitute brand (but check first). You can also order wax online. Most e-commerce stores sell several brands of dental waxes. For your convenience, here's a quick list of quality dental waxes available at Amazon.
Note: Dental wax should be stored in a cool area when not in use.
GUM mint-flavored orthodontic wax
Prescribed widely by orthodontists for relief from irritation due to wires and brackets, this mint-flavored dental wax is easy to apply and remove as needed. This clear wax includes pre-cut pieces of the wax, meaning you don't have to guess how much to use.
- Flavored orthodontic wax with vitamin E and aloe vera
- Suitable for patients wearing partial dentures
- Compact and easy to carry
- Available in convenient, single-use applications
OrthoDots moisture-activated silicone dental wax
As its name suggests, OrthoDots moisture-activated silicone dental wax offers quick relief from pain and irritation caused by orthodontic appliances. Equipped with adhesive technology, this wax sticks better and works with all kinds of dental appliances, including braces and clear aligner trays.
Key product highlights:
- Made with clear, medical-grade silicone
- Works with all orthodontic appliances, including clear aligner trays
- Moisture-activated adhesive technology assists with better sticking
- Packaged in convenient, single-use applications
One of the best-selling dental waxes, Orthomechanic Orthowax is a medical-grade paraffin wax that offers immediate relief from orthodontic irritation. It is a clear wax that easily blends with your natural tooth color so that it's not visible. It's suitable for patients who wear braces, retainers, aligners, and full or partial dentures.
Key product highlights:
- Unscented and waterproof
- Packed in a portable, clear case
- Easy to apply
AZDENT orthodontic wax for braces
We like AZDENT because it is a medical-grade paraffin dental wax that offers quick and easy sticking. Available in mint flavor, it is packaged in a small, easy-to-carry case. According to users, this dental wax is softer and more pliable than other drug store brands.
Key product highlights:
- Made with medical-grade paraffin
- Mint flavor
- Lower melting temperature; advisable to store in a cool, dark place
Is orthodontic wax safe to swallow?
This is a common question, considering that dental wax tends to chip. Saliva causes mouth wax to wear off, but dental wax is non-toxic so you shouldn’t worry if you swallow it accidentally. Most dental wax is flavorless, but some brands offer flavors like mint.
Braces are preferred by orthodontics as a solution to crooked teeth. They’re the ideal solution to give you a good bite and better oral health. But traditional metal braces can cause irritation and discomfort. Dental wax not only keeps your oral tissue from getting damaged, but it also helps it heal and acts as a protective barrier. While wax application is simple and straightforward, make sure you ask your orthodontist for all the healthy practices to follow.
How do you remove orthodontic wax?
Dental wax can be easily removed at home, but you should be careful not to hurt your gums in the process. You can use a toothpick to do so or talk your orthodontist for guidance. Regular dental floss can also work effectively.
How often should orthodontic wax be applied?
You can apply it as often as needed, but most dentists recommend changing your dental wax every one to two days. Food particles can stick to dental wax and cause bacterial buildup. Ideally, you should change it every day after you’ve had your evening meal.
Pubmed NCBI: Experimental wax mixtures for dental use. Consulted 22nd October 2020.
Pubmed NCBI: Dental waxes: classification and physico-chemical characteristics of dental waxes II. Consulted 24th October 2020.
American Association of Orthodontics: Handling orthodontic issues at home. Consulted 17th November 2020.