How to protect your braces while playing sports

The next couple of months are full of sporting activities, from Friday Night Lights to fall ball. If you participate in sports regularly and have learned that orthodontic treatment with braces is on the horizon for you, you may be worried this will keep you stuck on the sidelines. We treat many athletes here at Amazing Smiles, and this is a common concern. Many patients who love to be out on the field, track, or court are afraid that having braces means missing out on the action, but the good news is, this couldn’t be further from the truth! You’ll still be able to continue participating in athletics while undergoing orthodontic treatment, whether you play for your school, church, or community.

Can I play sports with braces?

Professionals from Dwight Howard to Venus Williams are proof that straightening your smile doesn’t have to mean hanging up your jersey, but you will need to be careful with your braces to avoid damaging them, or injuring your teeth or mouth. This is especially true if you play contact sports! Keep reading below to learn about the #1 way to protect your braces – and your smile – while having fun participating in the sports you love.

A note about sports-related injuries in braces patients

Some of the most common injuries incurred by athletes are to the mouth and jaw area. That’s why it becomes particularly important to protect your smile when playing sports in braces. A fixed orthodontic appliance like braces increases the risk of oral injuries, which can occur if your mouth or your braces are hit by a ball or another player. These injuries are rarely life-threatening, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be painful! They can also cause serious damage that is costly to fix. We see a number injuries each year that are typical for athletes in braces, including lacerations to the cheeks, lips, and tongue, chipped or broken teeth, dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and root fractures.

The best braces protection for sports

The brackets and wires that come with braces add another element to these kinds of injuries. Braces can cut the inside of your mouth during a collision, and the components themselves can be damaged, including bent wires and broken brackets. When participating in sports you will need to protect brackets. The absolute best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while participating in physical activity is by wearing a mouthguard. Although we strongly recommend our braces patients invest in an orthodontic model, even a basic mouthguard will help prevent things like bleeding gums, broken brackets, or potentially fractured teeth. This is especially true when you regularly play a sport that includes contact, such as football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, and hockey.

Amazing Smiles staff working with a patient

More about using a mouthguard

Mouthguards are easy to find, simple to use, and highly effective, making them an excellent option for athletes who want to prevent damage and injury to their braces and their mouth. While they are incredibly useful for high-contact sports, we suggest you also wear one even if you only participate in light-contact or low-impact sports, too. It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth or cause small cuts and abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

As mentioned above, if you plan to regularly play sports while wearing braces, it’s worth looking into an orthodontic mouthguard. These are designed specifically to be used with braces and are made from a high-grade silicone that will help cushion your lips and keep them from bumping against your teeth and braces. This cushioning also protects the brackets from any impact-related damage, and can stop your lips from getting caught in your braces, which can be exactly as painful as it sounds! Although orthodontic mouthguards are generally a little bit larger than most regular mouthguards, silicone makes them just as comfortable to wear.

There are some orthodontic mouthguards, including brands like Shock Doctor and Tapout, that are designed to adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment, re-molding to them multiple times as they begin to shift into their new positions. Because they adjust based on your current bite, they are great for any athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances. Most orthodontic mouthguards are affordable and may come in strapped or unstrapped styles. They can often be found in major sporting goods stores, but our doctors are happy to recommend and order one for you based on your needs if you’d prefer to go through our practice. We strongly recommend that any of our sports-playing braces patients procure an orthodontic mouthguard to keep their teeth and mouth protected throughout the fall season – and beyond!

Doctor smiling with a patient

Keep your braces and your mouth safe with Amazing Smiles

As you can see, mouthguards are an excellent investment for braces patients who play sports. Not only do they shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, they also protect the orthodontic process itself. Although an orthodontic mouthguard is optimal, we encourage you to wear any mouthguard over not wearing one at all when you are participating in athletics.

Whether you’re wearing a mouthguard or not, you should get in touch with your general dentist’s office ASAP if you receive an injury to your teeth. Your dentist will be able to diagnose if you have any root or jaw bone fractures, and after he or she has assessed you for any tooth damage, get in touch with our office so we can determine if any part of your braces needs to be replaced or repaired as well.

If you know braces are in your near future, or you are a current braces patient with Amazing Smiles, you may be feeling worried about what the next few months will hold. Our team is here to set your mind at ease! We’re committed to helping you continue to participate in your favorite sports while protecting your teeth and braces as we straighten your smile! It’s our goal to provide the best orthodontic experience possible, from your first visit to your last. If you have any questions or concerns, we’re happy to talk them through with you, so get in touch with us anytime you need some encouragement. When you have the protection of a mouthguard and the support of the Amazing Smiles team behind you, you’ve got the best of both worlds: your favorite sports activities and a way to keep your braces and smile safe and healthy!

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