Here at Dillehay Orthodontics, one of our favorite parts of fall is sports! Between football, fall ball, and soccer season, it seems like there’s always a game on somewhere. We also treat quite a few patients who are active in sports at school or within the community. Because of this, we’re often asked if braces are compatible with athletic activities. Many players worry that they’ll be stuck on the sidelines throughout the orthodontic process.
If you’re getting braces soon and are nervous about how they could affect your performance, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to play any sport you normally do. However, you will have to be careful not to damage your braces, and you’ll need to protect your teeth and mouth from injury. This applies to all sports, but is especially important if you play contact sports.
As we head further into autumn, it’s the perfect time to talk about how keeping your braces safe and your smile protected when participating in sports. Let’s take a look at how mouthguards can protect your braces!
Mouthguards: the best option for protecting your smile
Mouthguards are simple to use, highly effective, and the best option athletes have for protecting their braces and teeth. They can help prevent damage and injury from occurring even if you participate in high-contact sports like football and hockey, but that’s not the only time you should wear them. It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth sometimes, and that same pressure can also cause small cuts or abrasions to your gums and cheeks. Mouthguards are an easy way to avoid this if you play light contact or low-impact sports, too!
If you regularly play sports while wearing braces, we recommend an orthodontic mouthguard. Although regular mouthguards do provide some protection, they’re often made of a thermoplastic material that will heat up in your mouth and mold to your teeth. While this is helpful if you don’t wear braces, it can actually end up working against your treatment since it’s unable to evolve with your teeth as they start moving.
A regular mouthguard that has molded itself around your brackets too snugly can also cause problems if you’re hit hard during practice or a game. The impact combined with a too-tight mouthguard could shift your appliance completely, and in some cases, even knock the brackets off. This may result in injury, not to mention extra orthodontic visits and a possible increase in the total treatment time.
Orthodontic mouthguards, on the other hand, are made from a high-grade silicone that cushions your lips. This keeps them from bumping up against your teeth and braces, protects the brackets from impact, and can also prevent painful scenarios like your lip getting caught in your braces (it feels exactly as bad as it sounds!) Orthodontic mouthguards are designed to fit over your braces comfortably, so they tend to be slightly larger than regular mouthguards, but are otherwise similar in design.
You can obtain regular or orthodontic mouthguards in most sporting supply stores. These will provide effective protection, and will almost always meet your basic mouthguard needs. For the utmost protection, we recommend investing in a customized orthodontic mouthguard. If you’d like more information on this, ask a member of our team and we’ll be happy to help you!
There are a number of popular mouthguards on the market. We’ve listed a few of our favorites below.
Shock Doctor has a pretty large following, thanks to their reputation for producing some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Their products are generally made of 100% medical grade silicone that’s designed to conform to the upper brackets. They also adjust to the movement of your teeth as they shift throughout the treatment process. With affordably options in both strapped and unstrapped styles, these mouthguards are a comfortable way to help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes.
A lip guard allows you to speak clearly, but will keep you from biting yourself accidentally when you’re in action. You can see why mouthguards that include one would be a bonus for patients who regularly participate in sports! The Vettex mouthguards do contain lip guards, which makes them a little bulkier, but they’re still an inexpensive and lightweight option. Note: these mouthguards are not made specifically for athletes in braces. The generalized design is something you may wish to take note of before purchasing.
If you’re looking for a newer style of mouthguard that’s more diverse, Tapout could be the answer! Their products come with a distinct design that helps promote airflow, and the comfortable fit makes it easy to talk with them in. They will re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change and are based on your current bite. They can be used by any athlete, whether they’re a braces patient or not.
In case of injury
Even with a mouthguard in, you should contact us as soon as possible if your mouth takes a direct hit while you’re in treatment with us. We’re always available for true orthodontic emergencies. Once we understand the situation, one of our doctors will let you know if you need to be seen for an emergency appointment.
Keep your smile safe with Dillehay Orthodontics
A custom-made orthodontic mouthguard is the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports! They are an excellent investment in your oral health, because they shield your teeth as they move into their new positions, and also help protect the straightening process itself. That said, even a basic mouthguard can prevent bleeding gums, broken brackets, or potentially fractured teeth. Even though a custom-made or orthodontic mouthguard is ideal, we encourage you to wear any kind over not wearing one at all when participating in sports.
Here at Dillehay Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to providing you with a rewarding and stress-free orthodontic experience. That includes cheering you on from the sidelines (metaphorically speaking, anyway!) If you have any questions or concerns about keeping your smile safe on the field or court, you can reach out to us any time. With a good mouthguard in place and a support system you can trust behind you, you can protect your smile and play all your favorite sports!