Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
Here at Leaver and Gardner Orthodontics, many of our patients play sports. Whether they play for their school or in their community, a common question is if starting braces treatment will put their sports career on hold. If you’re an athlete, you may be worried about playing sports with braces and how they will affect your performance or even keep you from playing.
If this sounds like you, we have good news! You don’t have to worry about sitting out a season during your braces treatment. You can continue playing any sport you like while undergoing orthodontic treatment, as long as you take the proper precautions to keep your braces and mouth safe. Our primary concerns are protecting your braces from damage and making sure you don’t injure your teeth or gums. To learn more about how you can protect your braces and mouth while playing sports, keep reading below!
WEARING A MOUTHGUARD
The single best way to protect your teeth and braces when you’re in the game is by wearing a mouthguard. They’re easy to use and effectively protect your teeth, even when you’re taking part in high-contact sports like football and hockey. We would love to see you wear them even when playing low-impact sports since even a small amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth or even leave small cuts and abrasions inside of your cheeks.
If you plan on playing sports during your orthodontic treatment, you should consider investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. While standard mouthguards do provide protection, they’re typically made of a type of thermoplastic that forms to your teeth when it gets warm. This can end up working against your braces because it won’t keep up with the movement of your teeth. This could seriously delay the straightening process.
Plus, a regular mouthguard that has formed snugly over the teeth and brackets could shift them or even knock the brackets off entirely if you take a hard enough hit. This could cause more orthodontic visits and a longer treatment time.
In contrast, orthodontic mouthguards are made from a high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them safe from bumping against your teeth and braces. This saves the brackets from any impact-related damage and can also protect you from getting your lip caught in your braces (it’s exactly as bad as it sounds!) While orthodontic mouthguards tend to be slightly bigger than standard mouthguards, they’re just as comfortable to wear.
Once you know the difference between a standard mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you’ll be able to make the choice that best suits your needs. These over-the-counter options provide excellent protection for you and will meet all of your basic needs.
Shock Doctor is a well-known brand, and their products are commonly considered some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Because they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they’re very comfortable and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards adjust to your teeth’ movement during treatment, and both strapped and unstrapped styles are affordable.
Tapout mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a unique design that promotes airflow. The comfortable fit makes it easy to talk while wearing them, and they will adjust to your teeth multiple times as your treatment progresses. Because they are meant to change based on your current bite, athletes in orthodontic treatment can use them, as well as athletes without appliances.
For patients in braces who regularly participate in sports, mouthguards that feature a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will prevent you from accidentally biting yourself while allowing you to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they are still an inexpensive, lightweight option. However, they have a more generalized design and aren’t made specifically for athletes in braces.
INJURIES FROM PLAYING SPORTS IN BRACES
Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re wearing braces and playing a sport needs to be examined right away. If this happens, get in touch with our office as soon as possible. We’re always available if you have an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s going on with you and your braces, Dr. Leaver or Dr. Gardner will determine if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment or not. Always remember that the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard! An orthodontic model is preferable, but even a basic mouthguard will help protect you from hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth.
PROTECT YOUR PERFECT SMILE WITH LEAVER AND GARDNER ORTHODONTICS
Mouthguards are one of the best investments you can make in your oral health, shielding your teeth while they move into their new permanent positions. They also protect the straightening process itself! We encourage all of our patients to wear any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in any kind of sports or other physical activity.
Whether you’re currently undergoing braces treatment or are just getting started, we understand being nervous about the impact they’ll have on your ability to play sports. We’d be happy to give you peace of mind! Our team is always here to answer any questions you may have or talk through any concerns. With mouthguard protection and our top-notch staff behind you, you’ll have everything you need to keep your smile looking and feeling great!