If you enjoy playing sports for your school or community, the idea of having braces put on may have you wondering what that means for your athletic endeavors. Fortunately, undergoing orthodontic treatment doesn’t have to mean missing out on all the action!
Here at Luv Braces, we treat quite a few athletes, many of whom had the same concerns as they began their journey towards a straighter smile. Their worries were as unfounded as yours are—you’ll still be able to play sports as a braces patient, you’ll just have to be careful not to damage them or injure your mouth when you’re out there on the field or court.
The simplest and most effective way to do that is by wearing a mouthguard consistently! This helps protect your mouth and your braces whether you’re practicing beforehand or playing in a big game. To learn more about how mouthguards work and why you should always wear one when participating in sports, keep reading below!
Why are mouthguards so important?
Sports-related injuries aren’t uncommon, particularly in the mouth and jaw area. This can be painful at the best of times, but braces add a whole new level of concern! When we put your braces on, the brackets are affixed directly to the front surface of your teeth with a wire running through them. That means you’re at an increased risk for injury if your mouth or braces are hit by the ball or another player. This can be painful and costly, even if it’s not a serious injury. Brackets and wires can cut the inside of your mouth, and the parts themselves can be damaged. We also see our fair share of bent wires and broken brackets!
Wearing a mouthguard is the #1 way to prevent oral injury while participating in physical activities. We recommend an orthodontic model for all of our braces patients, but even a basic mouthguard will help protect you from bleeding gums, broken brackets, and fractured teeth. Mouthguard use is especially important if you regularly play high-contact sports like football, wrestling, and basketball.
How do mouthguards work?
There are a number of benefits to adding a mouthguard to your gym bag! They’re available both in stores and online, easy to use, and highly effective. While we believe they’re a must-have for contact sports, we recommend them for low-impact activities, too. Since it only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to cause irritation or abrasions, it makes sense to use protection whenever possible!
If you intend to play sports regularly while you’re in braces, we do encourage you to look into orthodontic mouthguards. These are designed specifically to be used with braces, and the high-grade silicone they’re made of will cushion your lips and keep them from bumping against your teeth and brackets if there’s any impact in that area. They can also stop your lips from getting caught in your braces (which is exactly as awful as it sounds!)
Orthodontic mouthguards are similar to regular models, but a little larger so they can fit around your braces. They’re still comfortable to wear, though, thanks to that silicone material. Some models are also designed to adjust to the movements your teeth will be making throughout the treatment process, which allows for multiple re-molding. Since they adjust based on your bite at any given time, they can be a really great choice for athletes in braces.
How to choose the best mouthguard for you
When deciding on a mouthguard, there are three basic questions you’ll want to ask yourself to ensure it’s a good fit for you, your smile, and your lifestyle.
- Does it feel comfortable once it’s in your mouth?
- Does it feel like the mouthguard is too bulky?
- How much room does the mouthguard allow for your teeth to move during treatment?
If your mouthguard is uncomfortable or you feel distracted by it, you won’t want to keep it in. Over-the-counter mouthguards that are readily available online and in many sporting goods stores may offer protection for your smile, but they do tend to have a more generic fit. They may not fit over your braces and teeth as comfortably as they could if they were custom designed for you.
Here at Luv Braces, we offer local student athletes a free mouthguard when they visit us for a consultation. We also provide all patient with a custom mouthguard once treatment begins! These are made using a mold from your own mouth, ensuring you have the greatest amount of protection. Custom mouthguards also give you a perfect fit that will last even as your teeth begin to shift towards their new positions, allowing you to wear them for a longer period of time.
That being said, the protection provided by over-the-counter orthodontic mouthguards is adequate for just about any athlete, and wearing any mouthguard is better than wearing no mouthguard at all when participating in sports activities.
Luv Braces is here to cheer you on!
Even if you’re careful about wearing a mouthguard, oral injuries are possible. If you do experience this, we urge you to contact your dentist as soon as possible so they can check for any root or jawbone fractures. Once you’ve been assessed by your dentist, let our office know so we can determine if any part of your braces need to be replaced or repaired.
Luv Braces is here to keep your smile safe as you work towards improved oral health and straighter teeth! We’re committed to helping you continue to do the things you love while you’re in braces, including sports. It’s our goal to provide you with a positive orthodontic experience from start to finish, so if you have any questions or concerns about how to safely play sports as a braces patient, get in touch! We’ll be happy to walk you through all your options and set your mind at ease. Here’s to seeing you on the scoreboard soon!