Here at Luv Braces, we treat many patients who are also athletes. If you play summer sports or fall ball, you may be worried about the impact orthodontics can have on your ability to play. The good news is braces or clear aligners don’t have to leave you sitting on the sidelines! You’ll still be able to play any sport you normally would, you’ll just need to take a few extra precautions to protect your smile. If you’re active during the treatment process, mouthguards are one of the easiest ways to keep your teeth and appliances safe. Let’s look at why you should always have one in your sports bag!
The basics of mouthguards
It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces for them to irritate your gums or cheeks. Having a mouthguard on hand during any physical activity will prevent damage from occurring, whether you’re at practice or participating in high-contact sports! Mouthguards are extremely effective and come in both regular and orthodontic models.
While regular mouthguards do provide some measure of protection, they’re made from a thermoplastic material that heats up in your mouth and molds to the teeth and brackets. This molding doesn’t move with the teeth as they shift towards their new positions, which can work against the straightening process. This may lead to extra appointments or a longer treatment time in some cases.
If you’re one of our braces patients and regularly play sports, an orthodontic mouthguard is likely a better option. These appliances are designed specifically for orthodontic patients and use a high-grade silicone material instead of thermoplastic. This allows it to cushion your lips and prevent them from bumping against your teeth and braces. Since they fit over braces, orthodontic mouthguards are a little larger than regular ones but still very comfortable to wear.
Who needs a mouthguard?
No matter the sport you play, mouthguards are an excellent investment in your smile! While an orthodontic mouthguard is ideal, we encourage any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports. Which sports? Pretty much all of them! Because dental injuries can be easily prevented with the use of a mouthguard, we recommend patients wear them when participating in any competitive and recreational sports. This goes double for those in which impact, contact, or collision are likely to occur.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
There are generally three categories of mouthguards, which vary in terms of cost, comfort, and protection levels.
Stock mouthguards are ready-made. They don’t require a visit to your dentist or orthodontist, which means you can find them at most sporting goods stores. They’re cost-effective but only come in a limited range of sizes and require the mouth to be shut to keep them in place. Since they’re not customized to the patient’s mouth, these mouthguards can be less effective than some other models.
These mouthguards soften when placed in hot water. Once they’ve cooled down, you put it in your mouth, where it will adapt by bite pressure. This is a more personalized option that can be particularly useful to patients who wear braces! Because they’re generally designed for use at home, you can purchase these mouthguards at many sports stores. We can help you with a final molding if needed.
Custom mouthguards are available in most dental and orthodontic offices. They’re created using impressions from a patient’s mouth, allowing us to provide the best fit and comfort possible. This option does cost a bit more than the others and will require a visit to our office to make them, but they’re unbeatable when it comes to protecting your mouth in any sporting situation!
Whatever type of mouthguard you choose, it should fit comfortably and securely, be easy to clean, and have high-impact energy absorption. A mouthguard should never restrict your breathing.
Dealing with orthodontic emergencies
As effective as mouthguards can be, we still ask that you contact our office if your mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports. Depending on the circumstances, we may recommend an emergency appointment with Dr. Tahbaz or Dr. Rezapour. True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but they do occur from time to time. These are defined as:
- serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
- swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
- severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck
If you experience any of these symptoms, let us know as soon as possible! If you’re a current patient, we recommend you start with our Austin or Bee Cave office, but don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care clinic or emergency room if you feel that’s your best option. While some patients are concerned that their orthodontic process will be interrupted or delayed by emergency treatment, we can always pick up where we left off, or adjust your treatment plan once the emergency has passed.
Keep your smile safe with help from Luv Braces
Even minor emergency situations can be upsetting to patients. That’s why we encourage every patient to wear a mouthguard when playing sports! Our team is happy to support you in all your athletic endeavors, and we want you to continue doing all the things you love while we straighten your smile. That includes your favorite sports! If you have any questions about protecting your teeth during treatment, get in touch any time and we’ll be happy to talk you through it.