Although we’re still in a time of uncertainty when it comes to Covid-19, many communities and schools are anxious to get their sport programs back on track. If you’re a student athlete, you’re no doubt looking forward to getting out there on the field or court! But what if you’ve recently had braces put on?
Here at About Faces And Braces, we treat a number of patients who are active in sports, and we’re often asked if being in braces means you have to sit games out on the sidelines. Fortunately, this is one worry that’s completely unfounded! You can continue any form of physical activity while undergoing orthodontic treatment, but you do need to be careful to not damage your braces. Keep reading below to learn how you can protect your appliance and your smile while playing sports this summer or fall!
Maximize protection with a mouthguard
When it comes to protecting your mouth, teeth, and braces while you’re playing sports, you can’t beat a mouthguard. They’re simple to use, highly effective, and help keep your smile safe even when participating in high-contact sports like football and hockey. We also recommend wearing them for practice and low-impact sports, since it doesn’t take much pressure on your braces to irritate your gums or the inside of your cheeks.
While any mouthguard is a good investment, we recommend orthodontic mouthguards for the best results. While regular mouthguards will provide some protection, they may not always be the best choice for patients in braces. That’s because they tend to be made of thermoplastic, which heats up in your mouth and molds to your teeth. This leaves it unable to evolve with your teeth as they shift throughout treatment, and can actually end up working against the straightening process! It can also mold itself too snugly around the brackets, which could result in them shifting or being knocked off if you sustained a hard enough hit. This could result in extra orthodontic visits, or contribute to an increased treatment time.
Orthodontic mouthguards, on the other hand, are made from high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces. This helps protect the brackets from damage and can also prevent painful scenarios like getting your lip caught in your braces (it’s exactly as bad as it sounds!) Orthodontic mouthguards do tend to be slightly larger than regular mouthguards since they’re designed to fit over your braces, but they’re still just as comfortable to wear.
Knowing how regular mouthguards and orthodontic mouthguards differ will allow you to make the best decision for your smile based on your specific needs and the sports you’ll be playing. Below we’ll list some of the over-the-counter options that are widely available—these will provide effective protection and meet all your basic mouthguard needs. However, we encourage you to consider a customized orthodontic mouthguard. We would love to help you with this!
Shock Doctor is a well-known brand that produces some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. They’re made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, so they are very comfortable in addition to protecting your mouth from cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards will adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and are affordably priced. They’re available in both strapped and unstrapped styles.
Mouthguards that come with a lip guard, like Vettex, can be really beneficial to braces patients who regularly participate in sports. They’ll keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but don’t hinder your ability to speak clearly. Although lip guards can make the mouthguard a little bulkier in general, they’re still a lightweight, inexpensive option. It’s worth noting, however, that their generalized design is not made specifically for athletes in braces.
Tapout mouthguards incorporate a newer style that has a distinct design to promote better airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they will re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change throughout treatment. Because they are meant to adjust based on your current bite, they can be used by athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.
A note on injuries that can occur while in braces
Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, you can still sustain damage if your mouth takes a direct hit while you’re in braces. This may lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth. If you are injured while playing sports, we recommend you get in touch with our office as soon as possible so we can advise you on the next steps to take. Once we know what’s going on, we’ll be able to determine if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment or not.
Remember that the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard. You’ll get the most protection with a custom-made orthodontic mouthguard, but even a more basic model will do the trick!
Trust About Faces And Braces to keep your smile safe
Mouthguards are an excellent investment in your oral health. They shield your teeth as they move into their new positions, and protect the integrity of the straightening process itself. While a customized orthodontic mouthguard is optimal, we encourage all of our athletic patients to wear any type of mouthguard over none at all.
If you are concerned about the impact your braces will on your ability to play sports, we’re here to set your mind at ease! The About Faces And Braces team is committed to helping you continue to participate in your favorite sports while protecting your teeth and braces. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have, or address any concerns, so get in touch today for more tips on keeping your smile safe while enjoying the activities you love!