Here at the office of Dr. Jared Lee, many of our patients are active in sports. We’re frequently asked if braces are compatible with athletes, or if players will be stuck on the sidelines while they undergo orthodontic treatment. If you’re a student athlete, you might also be nervous about how getting braces will affect you on the court or the field!
Fortunately, this is one common concern that you don’t need to worry about. You’ll still be able to play any sport you’re involved in at school or in your community while you’re wearing braces, but you will have to be careful not to damage them. You’ll also need to take measures to protect your teeth and mouth from injury, especially if you play contact sports.
As we get into the swing of a new football, fall ball, and soccer season, it’s the perfect time to talk about how you can keep your braces – and your smile! – safe and shiny while playing sports. Keep reading below for more information on mouthguards for braces.
When it comes to protecting your teeth during physical activity, mouthguards are your best option. They’re easy to use, highly effective, and help prevent damage from occurring even if you participate in high-contact sports like football and hockey. On a related note, we actually recommend wearing mouthguards for light contact or low-impact sports, too. Even a small amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, and may cause small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.
If you regularly play sports while wearing braces, consider investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. Although regular mouthguards do provide some protection, they tend to be made of thermoplastic, which heats up in your mouth and will mold to your teeth. Because this kind of mouthguard is unable to evolve with your teeth as they shift, it can actually end up working against the straightening process. Not only that, but a regular mouthguard that has molded itself too snugly around the brackets can cause problems if you sustain a hard hit. The impact could shift them, and in some cases, knock the brackets off completely, resulting in extra orthodontic visits and a possible increase in the total treatment time.
In contrast, orthodontic mouthguards are made from a high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces. This helps protect the brackets from any impact-related damage, and can also prevent painful scenarios like your lip getting caught in your braces! Orthodontic mouthguards tend to be slightly larger than regular mouthguards since they’re designed to fit over your braces, but they are just as comfortable to wear.
Knowing the differences that exist between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard will allow you to make an informed decision that takes into account your individual needs. These over-the-counter options provide effective protection for you and will meet all your basic mouthguard needs. However, we do recommend you consider a customized orthodontic mouthguard if you play sports. Dr. Lee is happy to help you with this.
Shock Doctor is a well-known brand, and tend to produce some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, Shock Doctor mouthguards are very comfortable, and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. They also adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and have affordably priced options in both strapped and unstrapped styles.
Mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus for patients in braces who regularly participate in sports. Lip guards keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but won’t hinder your ability to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and though this makes them a little bulkier than other models, they’re still an inexpensive and lightweight option. It’s important to note, however, that these mouthguards 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. These mouthguards will adjust themselves based on your current bite, so they can be used by athletes in braces, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.
In case of an injury
Whether you have a mouthguard in or not, we recommend you get in touch with our office as soon as possible if your mouth takes a direct hit while you’re a braces patient. We’re always available if there’s an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s happened, Dr. Lee will be able to determine if you need to be seen for an emergency appointment or not.
Remember: the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a custom-made orthodontic mouthguard! But even basic mouthguards can help athletes avoid bleeding gums, broken brackets, or potentially fractured teeth.
Dr. Jared Lee will help keep your smile safe
Mouthguards are an excellent investment in your oral health. They not only shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, they also help protect the straightening process itself. While a custom-made mouthguard is optimal, we encourage all of our patients to wear any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports activities.
Dr. Lee and the rest of our expert team are committed to helping you continue playing your favorite sports while protecting your teeth and braces. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment plan, or want to learn more about keeping your smile safe on the field or court, get in touch! With a good mouthguard in place and our skilled staff by your side, you can play your favorite sports and keep your smile on the straight and narrow!