Orthodontic way is something that cannot be called new in any sense of the word. It is roughly as old as orthodontry itself, and yet remains one of the most elusive topics on the internet, with almost every forum full of questions about orthodontic wax; what is it? How is it used? What is it good for? What is it made out of? I thought that the best way to answer these questions is in the form of an FAQ, so without any further ado, our orthodontic wax FAQ:
What Is Orthodontic wax/dental wax?
Orthodontic wax, or dental wax (or ortho wax, as it is sometimes called) are all the same substance. Different brands use different ingredients, but it is a hardened grease (the definition of wax) made from the esters of fatty acids, hydrocarbons, or some other organic compounds. There are vegan versions, and wax can be made from animal as well as vegetable fats and oils.
What is it made out of?
Usually beeswax is used, or carbamide. Sometimes materials like cerumen or animal fats are used to make the wax. It is always water repellent and non-soluble in water or saliva.
What is it good for?
Braces are made primarily of wires, and as such may have sharp edges and pointy bits that can mess up the inside of your mouth, cheeks and tongue. Orthodontic wax is put on the pointy ends to literally take the edges off of the wires in your mouth. This way they are coated and cannot hurt your oral cavity and the soft tissues inside your mouth.
Is it edible?
Of course it is. While not nutritious, it is completely safe to ingest orthodontic wax, as all products that are used in dentistry thus may be swallowed need to be. It would be wrong on many levels to make an orthodontic coating that is not edible.
Are there differences between the kinds commonly available?
Yes and no. Functionally no, they all do the same thing, and roughly with the same effectiveness. From a personal view though, yes, there are differences. The first to be mentioned is that some are made out of animal fats or include the esters of fatty acids gained from animal products, and some rely entirely on beeswax (this is the most common, by the way), and some on vegetable fats and extracts of different plant materials.
The other difference is that some come flavored, as in they have added mint or other flavorings, and some do not taste like anything at all, really. Flavored and regular all work on the same principle, and will have the same consistency.