Now that your orthodontist has told you that you need braces, you’re worried about what it will mean for your place on the school’s baseball team. A common question is if braces (or clear aligners) mean you can’t play sports. Accidents happen, especially in sports, with an ongoing risk of collision and contact injuries.
An injury to the mouth can be extremely painful (even without braces) and can cause serious damage, which can be expensive to fix. Plus, if you are hit in the mouth while wearing braces and the alignment of your teeth is affected, it can add more time and expense to your orthodontic treatment plan.
It’s a common concern for any athlete, but orthodontic treatment won’t put you on the bench as long as you protect your mouth properly. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that those who use a mouthguard with braces are between 82% and 93% less likely to suffer injuries to their teeth and face when playing sports.
In this article, we’ve covered the information you need to choose the best protection for your mouth and orthodontic work, while you continue to enjoy your sport.
Types of Mouthguards Athletes Can Consider
There are two types of mouthguards to consider for protection by athletes who wear braces: orthodontic and standard mouthguards. Your orthodontist will generally advise that you use the orthodontic mouthguard for sports play, so let’s find out why.
Standard mouthguards are available in sporting goods stores, online, and in pharmacies. They do come in different sizes, but the sizing isn’t based on braces. Their design is primarily a one-size-fits-all approach based on the size of an athlete’s mouth.
This type of mouthguard isn’t ideal (or recommended) for those who wear any type of braces. The standard mouthguards are made of hard plastic so they aren’t designed to adjust to the changing mouth of an athlete with braces. The mouthguard can’t adjust as your teeth move due to the braces doing their job. In fact, a standard mouthguard can work against your orthodontic goals.
The hard plastic design of this type of mouthguard won’t protect you from the impact of a collision while you are playing your sport. The hardness sends the effect of the contact directly toward your braces, teeth, and jawbone. It’s not only painful but you are also at risk of an orthodontic emergency that causes serious injury and damage to the braces. The mouthguard at that point is useless for your purposes of protecting your braces and your mouth.
Orthodontic mouthguards are designed specifically for those who wear braces. The softer silicone design allows for better performance for anyone undergoing orthodontic treatment. It can accommodate the movement of the teeth that are slowly transitioning into new positions in your mouth.
Due to its flexibility, the braces mouthguard will absorb the shock of a direct hit on your face. With an orthodontic mouthguard in place, your brain is also protected as the mouthguard absorbs that trauma. Your soft tissues such as the lips, tongue, inner cheeks, and gums are also safer as the mouthguard keeps the impact away from your teeth. Otherwise, the impact transfers to your teeth and braces which then can cut these soft tissues or break teeth.
It’s important to know that if a patient is using clear aligners like Invisalign instead of traditional metal braces, the aligners themselves will not protect the teeth from an impact. The aligners must be removed and a custom-made orthodontic mouthguard worn instead while playing sports. Thus, keeping your teeth and jaw protected. Make sure the aligners are properly stored in their case when they are not in the mouth.
If you have braces and still want to play your sport, you must choose the right mouthguard to prevent injury and damage to your braces. Then, it’s critical that you care for it properly.
How To Care For Your Mouthguard
Once you have your mouthguard, it is important to take care of it so it will do its job as long as possible. This means:
- Clean and rinse the mouthguard before and after wearing it.
- Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat.
- Use the case any time the mouthguard isn’t in your mouth.
- Replace a mouthguard that is damaged.
If you follow these simple tips, your mouthguard should last about six months. Mouthguards lose their thickness over time which lessens their ability to absorb the impacts common during sports play.
True orthodontic emergencies do happen, even with the best preventative measures. If you get hit in the face, call your orthodontist and ask for instructions on handling the situation. They may want you to come in so they can make sure there has been no serious damage.
Where Do You Get a Mouthguard?
You can indeed buy mouthguards in retail outlets like sporting goods stores and pharmacies. Keep in mind, though, that, as mentioned above, these mouthguards are not meant to be worn over braces. They can end up damaging parts of the braces, leading to injury to your mouth anyway, and lengthening your treatment plan.
Investing in a custom-made mouthguard through your orthodontist can save you from the cost and necessity of future dental treatments. The mouthguard will be specially molded for your mouth and your specific needs as you wear braces and compete in your sport.
Be Smart When Playing Sports with Braces
Your days playing sports don’t have to end when you wear braces or clear aligners. There are orthodontic mouthguards made specifically for protecting your teeth, jaw, and braces while you continue to enjoy your sport.
Our team here at Bernstein Orthodontics is ready to help you choose the best mouthguard as well as instruct you on its care to ensure it lasts. And, in the event of an orthodontic emergency, we are here! Contact us today to get your orthodontic mouthguard.