Here at Hemphill Orthodontics, a number of our patients are active in sports. Whether they play for their school or in their community, many are concerned that beginning their braces treatment will leave them stuck on the sideline for the season. If you’re an athlete, you may be worried about playing sports with braces and how they will affect your performance, or even keep you from playing.
This is a very common concern, but thankfully it’s also an unfounded one. You can continue playing any sport you like while undergoing orthodontic treatment, but you do need to take precautions to keep your braces and mouth safe. We’re focused on protecting your braces from damage and making sure you don’t injure your teeth or gums. To learn more about how you can protect your braces and your mouth while playing sports, keep reading below.
Wearing a mouthguard
Mouthguards are the single best way to protect your teeth when you’re in the game. They’re simple to use and do a great job of protecting your teeth, 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 contact 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, one of the best investments you can make is an orthodontic mouthguard. Regular mouthguards do provide some protection, but they’re made of a more rigid material (called thermoplastic) that molds to your teeth when warmed and softened. Firstly, this is dangerous for your brackets, as they can get stuck in the molded mouthguard, resulting in extra orthodontic visits to repair the appliances and increased treatment time. This rigid kind of mouthguard also can’t adjust well as your teeth move, so it may end up working against your braces, delaying the straightening process.
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 (yes, it’s exactly as bad as it sounds! Orthodontic mouthguards can be slightly bulkier than regular mouthguards, but they’re just as comfortable, and even more important for your safety.
When you know the differences between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you based on what you need it for. These over-the-counter options provide effective protection for you and will be able to meet all your basic needs.
One of the most well-known brands, Shock Doctor mouthguards are considered some of the best orthodontics mouthguards on the market. Because 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.
If you’re in braces and regularly play 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. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they’re still an inexpensive, lightweight option. However, they have a more generalized design and aren’t 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 can re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. Because they’re meant to adjust based on your current bite, athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment can use them, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.
Injuries from playing sports in braces
Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re in braces still needs to be looked at. If this happens, get in touch with our office as soon as possible. We’re always available if you have an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s going on with you and your braces, Dr. Hemphill will be able to determine if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment or not. Remember, the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports 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 Hemphill Orthodontics
Mouthguards are an excellent investment in your oral health, shielding your teeth while they move into their new permanent positions. They also protect the straightening process itself! We encourage all of our patients to wear some kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports or other physical activities.
Whether you’re a current patient or have an appointment to get your braces on soon, we understand that you may be 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!