How to Protect Your Braces While Playing Sports

Sports are a big part of most teenagers’ lives, especially for those that are active in them. Many athletes fear getting braces because they believe they won’t be able to play sports anymore. That couldn’t be further from the truth! At Dillehay Orthodontics, we frequently get questions about how patients can play sports while undergoing orthodontic treatment.

The first thing you should know is you can still play any sport with braces!

Now, that doesn’t mean you should go out and “head” a bunch of soccer balls with reckless abandon. There are a few safety measures you should take to ensure your mouth and teeth stay safe while playing your favorite sports. Let’s talk about how you can defend your mouth from sports-related injuries!

The Mouthguard Showdown: Regular vs. Orthodontic

When it comes to sports, a mouthguard will be your best friend. They are the simplest method of keeping your teeth safe from the inevitable damage mouths are subjected to while playing sports. It is hands down the best way to keep your risk of injury low.

Now, there is a difference between orthodontic mouthguards and regular mouthguards. Regular mouthguards are made of thermoplastic. This means they are heated and then molded to your teeth, even around the brackets of your braces. Here’s the issue – when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, your teeth move, and unfortunately, the mold doesn’t shift when your teeth change positions. The mouthguard actually works against braces and stops them from straightening your teeth. If the mold fits a little too well, it can also cause other problems. If you take a hard hit to the mouth with a snug mouthguard in, it can potentially push the braces off of your teeth! This leads to more appointments and a longer treatment time. While we love to see our patients, we know how inconvenient multiple visits can be, especially when they can be avoided!

For these reasons, an orthodontic mouthguard is a much better option for those who are undergoing treatment. These mouthguards are made especially for someone with braces. Made from high-grade silicone, they have large, rubber flanges which go under the lip to prevent them from being pushed into brackets. This is extremely beneficial because anyone who has ever had their lip or inside of their cheek on the wings of a bracket knows just how painful it can be. If the area swells, it can be extremely painful and the only way to relieve it it is by heading to the orthodontist.

Excited cute teenage cheerleader smiling with bracesNow that you know about the different types of mouthguards, let’s take a look at the different brands of mouthguards and compare them. While all of them do the job, the best mouthguard you can get is one that is custom made specially for you by your orthodontist or dentist. That said, there are many over-the-counter mouthguards that work well.

Orthodontic mouthguards

Shock Doctor

Overwhelmingly, some of the best sports orthodontic mouthguards come from Shock Doctor. They make mouthguards specifically for athletes with braces in mind. Their mouthguards conform to the upper teeth brackets with ease and to prevent cuts and scratches. Made of medical grade silicone, they work with your orthodontic treatment by adapting to the changes your teeth are making while in treatment. Among the slimmest and most lightweight mouthguards on the market, they are also reasonably priced, have a solid reputation, and glowing client reviews.


A lip guard is especially encouraged for those that play sports while wearing braces. Lip guards can prevent you from accidentally biting yourself and doesn’t impede your ability to have conversations while wearing it. Vettex makes some of the best mouthguards which come with lip guards. Even though they’re slightly bulkier than others on the market, they are still quite simple and relatively lightweight. They aren’t specifically made for athletes with braces, but they work well and are very cost-effective.


This mouthguard lives up to its name! This brand of mouthguard is a favorite among wrestlers and mixed martial artists. Losing your mouthguard in these sports is pretty easy, but not with these. Custom fit and reasonably priced, they are a winner with many athletes that wear braces. Another bonus for this company is they offer a “self-impression kit” so making a mold of your teeth can be done from the convenience of your own home.


Need something that can be molded more than once? Tapout has a mouthguard that can be re-molded to teeth multiple times. You can use these mouthguards with or without braces; they adjust to you! They are also designed to promote air-flow around the teeth and jaws. They are a little pricier than other mouthguards, but are comfortable and don’t restrict your ability to talk normally.


A young soccer player smiling and wearing bracesWhile some mouthguards can be a bit pricey, you’ll want to choose one that will both protect your mouth and allow for your teeth to move into their new, desired positions. They are key for protecting your mouth and are worth the investment! Now, we always recommend a custom-made mouthguard from your orthodontist first, but the brands we’ve mentioned are excellent alternatives.  

At Dillehay Orthodontics, we want your child to have all of the benefits of playing sports while still protecting their teeth and mouth and we know you feel the same! If you or your child is nervous about playing sports in their braces, or just anxious about their braces in general, stop by our office so we can soothe some nerves. We are happy to talk to you and your child about what they can expect when playing sports in braces and how to do it as comfortably and safely possible. Visit any of our locations in Wichita East, Wichita West, or Derby to meet with us. We look forward to seeing you soon!