Anyone who has ever had braces has experienced the nuisance of a pokey wire. No matter what we as orthodontists do, it is an unfortunate inevitability. There are a few different reasons why this may happen. First, as your teeth begin to straighten, the wire has a tendency to shift. Most times you won’t even notice. However, if the wire shifts far enough, you will begin to feel that discomfort in the back of your cheek. Another common reason for the wire to start poking is when the orthodontist is closing spaces or gaps between your teeth. As those spaces close, the arch or perimeter of your teeth decreases. There is only one place for this wire to slide, and that is in the back of your mouth.
Fortunately, orthodontic wax is a great and easy way to rid yourself of any discomfort until you can see your orthodontist for your next appointment. Below, we describe the proper steps to use wax to maximize its ability to provide you relief.
Step 1: Wash your hands and brush your teeth. We want to reduce the introduction of bacteria.
Step 2: Shape a small ball of wax. Pull off a little piece of wax from the pack and roll it with your fingers into a ball shape for at least 5 seconds to warm the wax. A blob the size of a popcorn kernel will usually do the job. Too much wax may result in it falling off.
Step 3: Locate the painful areas. Wax can cover up any area where sharp or rough metal is irritating your inner lips and cheeks. This can be braces or wires poking far in the back of your mouth.
Step 4: Dry off your braces. Dry with a tissue. The drier the area, the longer the wax will stick.
Step 5: Press the wax over the painful area and rub it in place. Using your thumb or forefinger, press the ball of wax over the bracket or wire causing you pain.
Step 6: Allow the wax to work: Once you applied the wax, your mouth should heal itself quickly. The wax barrier stops the irritation and allows the mouth the time to heal any sore spots.