Playing Sports With Braces: How Orthodontic Mouthguards Can Help Prevent Injury & Damage
For many kids, teenagers, and even adults who play sports and are needing orthodontic treatment, it is extremely common to start wondering, can you play sports with braces? For some, it can be extremely tough if they feel like they have to choose between playing or achieving a straight smile.
The good news is, that choice doesn’t have to be made! You can play sports with braces and even other orthodontic appliances too. There are just some precautions to take and things to be aware of to minimize the chance of mouth injury or damage to your braces.
In this article, we break down what you need to know about safely playing sports with braces.
Yes, You Can Play Sports with Braces! (With Protection)
Playing sports while wearing braces are two things that CAN happen at the same time successfully. The most important thing during physical activity when you have braces, especially when it comes to contact sports, is to protect your mouth and teeth as much as possible. Of course, injuries can happen at any time when you are playing sports. But, it is important to understand that when you are wearing braces, there is an increased risk of oral injuries and damage that can occur if you fall or are hit by another player or the ball.
In general, an injury to the mouth will not be life-threatening. However, it can sometimes still be extremely painful, cause serious damage, and cost more money to fix. Plus, if the alignment of your teeth is impacted when your mouth is hit, it can add more time to your orthodontic treatment plan.
Of course, you can be cautious while playing and try to stay out of situations where you could get hit in the mouth. But, in some sports, that is very hard to do. An orthodontic mouthguard is absolutely the best way to keep your teeth and braces protected when playing sports.
Orthodontic Mouthguards Effectively Protect Your Teeth
A mouthguard, more specifically an orthodontic mouthguard, will protect your mouth during hits that could cause bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), mouthguard users are between 82% and 93% less likely to suffer dentofacial injuries when playing sports.
Orthodontic mouthguards are specially designed mouthguards that fit comfortably in your mouth while covering your braces, teeth, and gums. Wearing them can quickly become second nature when playing and will ensure the chances of you suffering a mouth injury or damaging your braces are significantly reduced.
Source: Shock Doctor
The Difference Between Orthodontic Mouthguards & Regular Mouthguards
Not all mouthguards are created equal when it comes to protecting your braces and your teeth. An orthodontic mouthguard is specifically made to protect your teeth during different phases of your orthodontic treatment. These mouthguards are typically constructed out of silicone or another fairly soft material. This type of material is used because of its ability to adequately absorb the impact of a hit to the mouth, also reducing the amount of pain.
There are also regular mouthguards, sometimes referred to as stock mouthguards, that are designed to protect your teeth when playing sports but are not exclusively designed for use during orthodontia.
There are several issues when trying to wear these regular mouthguards with braces. One is that they often do not provide the proper amount of room to account for braces on the teeth. This causes them to fit much less comfortably, often being too tight on the teeth to wear for an extended period. This can not only cause pain but can actually push your teeth out of the proper alignment that the braces are trying to form.
Another issue with these regular mouthguards is that they are often made from a much harder plastic material. This means it will not be as good at cushioning impact and can cause even more pain if you were to get hit in the mouth.
Overall, when playing sports with braces, orthodontic mouthguards are going to be the best bet for protection.
Types of Orthodontic Mouthguards
So now you know how important protecting the teeth and braces with a mouthguard is when playing sports. But, the next question often is, what type to get? There are a couple of different types of orthodontic mouthguards that are available, including:
Boil and Bite (Mouth-Formed) Mouthguards
One type of orthodontic mouthguard is a mouth-formed guard often referred to as a “boil and bite” mouthguard. These are more expensive than regular stock mouthguards but are better suited to those wearing braces. You heat these medical-grade thermoplastic mouthguards at home and bite into them to help them mold to your teeth/braces and jaw shape. They can be heated and remolded multiple times to adjust to your teeth’s changing positions through orthodontic treatment.
Custom Mouthguards from Your Orthodontist
Though they are more expensive, custom-made orthodontic mouthguards are a great option for protecting your teeth and braces and ensuring the alignment of your teeth is not compromised. For these mouthguards, your orthodontist will take an impression of your teeth while you are at the office and the impression(s) will be sent to a specialized lab. The lab will then create well-fitted, silicone mouthguards for you to wear while playing sports. Once the mouthguard is ready, your orthodontist will have you try the mouthguard on to ensure that it fits your teeth and bite well.
What To Do If You Do Get Hit in the Mouth While Playing
Of course, wearing a mouthguard does not totally eliminate the chance that you or your child could get hit in the mouth while playing. If this happens, you must take care of any injury or damage as soon as possible.
In some instances, being hit in the mouth hard enough or falling and hitting your mouth could cause significant damage to your teeth, lips/gums, and/or braces. So, make sure to call your orthodontist immediately to discuss and assess the situation and determine if you need an emergency appointment.
Check out our article on how to handle orthodontic emergencies for more info on what to do if you do get hit while playing.
Take the Necessary Precautions When It Comes to Playing Sports with Braces
A mouth injury can negatively impact or delay orthodontic treatment. But that doesn’t mean sports and braces absolutely can’t happen at the same time. It will just be a matter of being careful and being prepared to keep your teeth and braces protected. The best way to do this is by wearing an orthodontic mouthguard while playing. Doing so significantly reduces the chance of damage or injury if a hit to the mouth were to occur.
Here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics, we can ensure your teeth are adequately protected and that your orthodontic treatment goes as smoothly and effectively as possible. Have questions about mouthguards or playing sports with braces? Don’t hesitate to contact us today!