When going through the inconvenience of braces, a couple things are a must: ibuprofen or acetaminophen, because when those teeth start moving it makes things miserable; and orthodontic wax, which is made of beeswax, carnauba or paraffin. It covers the sharp areas of braces like brackets and wires, preventing them from turning the mouth into Swiss cheese. When wax isn't available, there are other options.
The Orthodontic Care Package
Orthodontic bands, brackets and wires are not helpful at first. They have sharp edges that torture tongues, demolish the insides of cheeks and ravage lips. Unfortunately, to achieve the perfect smile, all of these appliances are necessary evils. The orthodontist sends everyone home with a care package to make the first months of braces more bearable. The kit includes floss, a toothbrush, packets of Tylenol or other painkiller, and ortho wax. The other items are readily available, but running out of wax is potentially problematic, if not for a few simple items that work almost as well.
The best choice for short-term relief from the sharp edges of orthodontic appliances is sugar-free gum. A stick of gum is torn apart, and the appropriate size pieces are rolled into small balls with the fingers. The gum warms with the rolling, becoming pliable enough that it is able to be placed over sharp edges. If the dry gum does not stick, chew it until all the grainy feeling is gone before using small pieces to protect sensitive areas. Gum works for short-term relief, but doesn't have the sticking power of wax.
Beeswax is one of the types of wax used to make orthodontic wax. It is also soft and easy to tear. If a beeswax candle is available, unroll it and tear off the desired amount to protect tender areas. As with the gum, roll the pieces of beeswax into small balls; it softens with the warmth from the hands while rolling. Beeswax has better lasting power than chewing gum and adheres well to dry hardware. Use a cotton-tipped applicator to dry the braces before applying the beeswax, and replace as often as needed.
Halloween Fangs and Big Red Lips
Many candy stores sell giant red wax lips or wax fangs. The lips are a quick fix for a desperate mouth. Break the wax into pieces just like the gum and beeswax, rolling into balls to cover hardware. The lips and fangs are chewable, which also makes the wax pliable. The wax is also usually flavored with wintergreen, making it a more pleasant substitute than beeswax.