Here at Smith & Heymann Orthodontics, many of our patients are active in sports and other physical activities. Whether they play for their school or for their community teams, one question that’s common when they begin treatment is if their braces will leave them on the sidelines for the season. If you’re an athlete, you may be wondering if playing sports while wearing braces is even possible and, if it is, how it will affect your performance.
While this is a very common concern, it’s also an unfounded one. You can keep playing any sports you’d like throughout the course of your orthodontic treatment! However, there are a few extra precautions you’ll need to take in order to keep your mouth and appliances safe. We don’t want you to damage your braces, and we especially want to protect your teeth and gums! To find out more about how you can protect your teeth, gums, and braces while playing sports, keep reading below!
Wearing a mouthguard
When it comes to protecting your mouth when you’re playing sports while wearing braces, mouthguards are the best tool available! They’re incredibly easy to use and proven to be highly effective, even in the most high-contact sports like football and hockey. At Smith & Heymann, we encourage our patients to wear a mouthguard even when participating in low-contact sports, since even the smallest bit of pressure on your braces can cause irritation in your mouth, leading to cuts or abrasions on your gums and the inside of your cheeks.
If you intend to play sports during your treatment, you may consider investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. While standard mouthguards do provide some protection, they’re generally made of thermoplastic, a material that heats up in your mouth and forms to fit around your teeth. This kind of mouthguard can’t adjust to your teeth as they shift, which can actually work against your braces and interrupt the straightening process.
Not only that, but a standard mouthguard that has molded itself too snugly around your brackets could shift them or even knock them completely off if you sustain a hard enough hit during a game or practice. This could require more orthodontic visits or an increase in your overall treatment time.
In contrast, orthodontic mouthguards are made from high-grade silicone that provides extra cushion for your lips and protects them from bumping against your braces and teeth. This helps protect the brackets from impact-related damage and can prevent painful scenarios like getting your lip caught in your braces (it’s just as bad as it sounds!) Orthodontic mouthguards do tend to be slightly bulkier than regular models, but they’re just as comfortable and the extra protection is worth it!
Once you know the differences between standard mouthguards and orthodontic models, you can make an informed decision based on your unique needs. Below you’ll find some over-the-counter options that will provide you with excellent protection and will meet all of your basic needs.
Shock Doctor is probably the most well-known brand and commonly considered to produce some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Since they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they are very comfortable, and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards effectively adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and are affordably priced in both strapped and unstrapped styles.
For Smith & Heymann Orthodontics patients in braces who regularly participate in sports, mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but do not hinder your ability to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they are still an inexpensive, lightweight option. Do keep in mind, however, that they have a more generalized design, and are not made specifically for athletes in braces.
Tapout mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a distinct design promoting airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they will re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. 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.
Injuries that can occur while playing sports in braces
Even if you’re wearing your mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re in braces should be seen by your orthodontist. If this happens to you, we encourage you to reach out to our team as soon as possible. We’re always available in the case of an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s happened, your doctor will be able to determine if you should come into the office for an emergency visit or not. Always remember that the best way to protect your teeth, gums, and braces while playing sports is to wear your mouthguard! An orthodontic model is preferred, but even a regular mouthguard will provide protection from hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth.
Protect your perfect smile with Smith & Heymann Orthodontics!
Mouthguards are a wonderful investment in your oral health, protecting your teeth as they shift into their new permanent positions. They also help to protect the straightening process itself! The doctors at Smith & Heymann encourage every patient to wear any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports and other physical activities.
Whether you’re a current patient or have your first orthodontic appointment coming up, we understand being nervous about the impact your braces will have on your ability to play your favorite sports. Our team would be happy to set your mind at ease! We’re always here to answer any questions you may have and talk you through your concerns. With mouthguard protection and our expert staff on your team, you’ll have everything you need to keep your smile looking and feeling great!