At Dillehay Orthodontics, we are our patients’ biggest fans — and we love our athletes! One of the perks of being an orthodontist in the modern era is that orthodontic treatment is available to almost anyone, and athletes are no exception. You might have heard that you have to give up your favorite sport when you get braces, but don’t worry, that’s a myth! Whether you play basketball, soccer, gymnastics, or cheerleading, you can keep the game going — as long as you follow these sports safety guidelines for athletes with braces.
Sports Safety For Athletes With Braces
Wearing a mouthguard is necessary whether you’re a pro on the field or just playing rec ball for fun. Your mouth is a vulnerable part of your body, and physical activity increases the risk of damaging your cheeks, tongue, lips, or teeth, especially when undergoing orthodontic treatment.
When you don’t wear a retainer, you put yourself and your orthodontic appliance at risk, which could be painful and expensive to heal or replace. The best way to ensure you can play your favorite sport and straighten your smile is to wear that mouthguard!
Mouthguards for Sports
All athletes should wear mouthguards, and sports mouthguards can easily be found at any sporting goods store. These guards are convenient, affordable, and designed to protect your teeth, lips, and jaw from any blunt force that may occur while engaging in physical activity.
While they are an excellent option for athletes without braces to consider, these may not be the best choice for athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment. That’s because they are not designed with braces in mind and may not even cover your teeth thoroughly, meaning the risk of injury is still pretty high.
Generic mouthguards can often be found at your local grocery store or pharmacy. This type is usually moldable. By boiling them in water and fitting them over your teeth, they shape your unique smile.
Although their moldability means they fit your specific smile, the mold isn’t designed to fit the brackets and wires of braces. Because they are intended to prevent individuals from grinding their teeth in their sleep rather than prevent injury, you may still experience a loose fit over your braces.
Dr. Ken and Dr. J.K. recommend using a specially designed orthodontic mouthguard. These guards combine the best of over-the-counter and sports guards: they’re great for protecting your teeth and braces during physical activity, and they are designed to fit your unique smile even with braces. Orthodontic mouthguards may be a little more expensive, but they are durable, long-lasting, and practical, meaning you should have no worries about after-school practice.
Remember, having any mouthguard is better than not having one at all – but make sure you consider your options carefully so that you can keep yourself safe no matter the sport you’re playing.
Accidents happen whether you have braces or not, but the brackets and wires in your mouth can make sports injuries that much more uncomfortable. Mouth sores are especially uncomfortable because even minor cuts and scrapes along cheeks, gumline, and tongue can be painful.
When hit, your braces can dig into the soft parts of your mouth like your lips or cheeks, which can cause bleeding, or in the worst-case scenario, it can jolt your teeth so that they become loose or fall out (another reason to wear your orthodontic mouthguard)! Fortunately, because there are so many blood vessels in your mouth, oral injuries typically heal faster than many other bodily injuries.
Your mouth contains many blood vessels, which can cause a lot of bleeding. This is normal, but it can feel pretty alarming to a parent of an upset child or teen. However, the best thing you can do in an emergency is to stay calm and assess the situation.
Shifted, Broken, or Lost Teeth
Sometimes, sports injuries can cause your child’s teeth to shift along with their braces. While this may seem alarming, don’t panic. Acting quickly and calmly is the best way to save the tooth.
If one or more of your child’s teeth shift or fall out due to a sports-related injury, take them to the emergency room immediately. Then contact one of our offices in Wichita or Derby so we can coordinate a way to fix your child’s orthodontic appliance.
Damage to Soft Tissue
If your child or teen has soft tissue damage, it’s usually because their brackets got caught up in the soft parts of their mouths, like their lips or cheeks. Although there may be a lot of bleeding that makes this type of injury look worse than it is, soft tissue injuries are the mildest orthodontic emergencies — and the most common.
Assess the situation by gently pulling the brackets from the lips or cheek. Most soft tissue injuries heal independently, but if the cut is big enough that the edges don’t meet, you may need to take your child to the emergency room or see an oral surgeon.
Dillehay Orthodontics: We’ll Take One For the Team
Dr. Ken and Dr. J.K. are experts in orthodontic care, and we know just how important it is for you to straighten your smile AND master your favorite sport. You don’t have to sacrifice the hobby you love — just visit Dillehay Orthodontics, and you’ll be on your way to success.
If you’re ready to get the smile you deserve, call one of our offices in Wichita or Derby to schedule your free consultation today!