Here at Lincoln Orthodontics, we see a lot of patients—kids and adults— who are active in sports. Whether they play for their school or in their community, one question that’s always on their mind when they begin treatment is if braces will sideline them for the season or what effect it will have on sports. If you’re an athlete and you plan on playing sports while in treatment, you might also be worried about how they could affect your performance!
While this is a very common concern, thankfully, it’s one that you don’t need to worry about! You can continue playing any sport (or playing any instrument) you like while undergoing orthodontic treatment! However, you will need to take extra precautions to keep your braces and mouth safe. We don’t want you to damage your braces, and we especially want to prevent you from injuring your teeth or gums! To learn more about how you can protect your smile while playing sports with braces, keep reading below.
Always Wear Your Mouthguard
When it comes to protecting your teeth when you’re in action, mouthguards are the single best tool to help. They’re easy to use and proven to be highly effective, even when participating in high-contact sports like football and hockey. We recommend wearing them for low-impact sports, too, since even a small amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, causing small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.
If you play sports while wearing braces, you’ll want to consider using an orthodontic mouthguard. While regular mouthguards certainly provide some protection, they are generally made of thermoplastic, a material that heats up in your mouth and forms to your teeth. This kind of mouthguard can’t evolve with your teeth as they shift, which can end up working against your braces in the long run. This can even interrupt the overall straightening process.
Not only that, but a regular mouthguard that has molded itself too snugly around the brackets could shift them or even knock the brackets off completely if you sustained a hard enough hit. This could result in extra orthodontic visits or an 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 (it’s exactly as bad as it sounds). Orthodontic mouthguards can be slightly larger than regular mouthguards, but they can be just as comfortable when you find the right fit.
Once you know the differences between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you can make the best decision on which mouthguard to choose based on what you need it for. At our office, we provide a mouthguard for you at the start of treatment
These over-the-counter options (all available at our office) provide effective protection for you and will be able to meet all your basic needs.
Shock Doctor is a well-known brand and is commonly considered to produce some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Since they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they are very comfortable and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and are affordably priced in both strapped and unstrapped styles.
For patients in braces who regularly participate in sports, mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but do not hinder your ability to speak clearly. Opro mouthguards contain lip guards and have a moldable portion to help make it easier to talk. They are a great universal and lightweight option. Do keep in mind that they have a more specific design, and are made specifically for athletes in braces.
Sisu mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a distinct design promoting airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they can re-formed to your teeth multiple times as they change positions during treatment. Because they are meant to adjust based on your current bite, they can be used by athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.
Injuries that can occur while playing sports in braces
Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re in braces deserves attention. If this happens to you, we recommend getting in touch with our office as soon as possible. We’re always available in the event of an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s going on with you and your braces, we can better determine if we should schedule you for an emergency appointment or not. Keep in mind that the absolute best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports with braces is by always wearing a mouthguard! An orthodontic model is preferable, but even a basic mouthguard will help prevent hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth.
Protect your perfect smile with Lincoln Orthodontics
Mouthguards are an excellent way to insure the protection of your oral health, protecting your teeth as they move into their new positions. They also protect the straightening process itself! We encourage all of our patients to wear a mouthguard when participating in sports or other physical activity.
Whether you’re a current patient or have an appointment to get your braces on soon, we understand being nervous about the impact they’ll have on your ability to play sports. We’d be happy to set your mind at ease! Our team is always here to answer any questions you may have or to talk through any concerns you have. With mouthguard protection and our skilled staff behind you, you’ll have everything you need to keep your smile looking and feeling great!