Braces and Sports: Can I Still Play?

Although most sports have wound down for the winter, there’s still a spot of action to be had, whether you’re on the field, court, or even watching from the stands. Here at Dudley Smiles, we treat a number of athletes, and a common concern is that orthodontic treatment like braces will keep them on the sidelines. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We only have to look at pros like Dwight Howard, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Williams sisters to disprove the idea that straightening your smile means giving up your game!

If braces are on the horizon for you, don’t worry – you’ll still be able to participate in any sports you normally would. It will be important, however, for you to take certain measures to avoid damaging them, or injuring your teeth or mouth. This is especially true if you play any contact sports. Our team is here to help you keep your braces and your smile safe while you do what you love! To learn more about how to avoid sports-related injuries as we straighten your smile, keep reading below.

Dr. Dudley with patient

Orthodontic injuries are not uncommon among athletes

If you’ve participated in sports for a while, chances are good that you’re no stranger to  mouth and jaw injuries. This actually tends to be one of the most common areas for injury among those who play sports regularly. While protecting your mouth should always be a priority, it becomes even more important when you’re in braces. That’s because a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces increases the risk of other oral injuries. A hit from a ball or another player can cause injuries that, while not life-threatening, can still be painful and cause damage that may be costly to correct. Some of the most common injuries we’ve seen in braces patients who play sports include:

  • lacerations to the cheeks, lips and tongue
  • chipped or broken teeth
  • dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • root fractures

The wires and brackets that traditional braces are composed of can add another element to these types of injuries. A bent wire or broken brackets can cut or otherwise injure the inside of your mouth, and any type of collisions makes this even more likely. Mouthguards are you best bet for avoiding injury and protecting your mouth and braces while playing sports! This is the easiest and most effective way to keep your smile in good shape when you participate in physical activities. We generally recommend that our braces patients invest in an orthodontic model, but even the most basic mouthguard will be able to provide you with some level of protection.

Dr. Dudley expalaining to patient

A little more on orthodontic mouthguards

Most orthodontic mouthguards come in affordable strapped or unstrapped styles, and most major sporting goods stores sell them over the counter. If you’d rather go through our practice, Dr. Dudley is happy to recommend one for your specific case, and can even order an orthodontic mouthguard for you through our office! These are an excellent option for all athletes, as they are easy to use, and have been proven to be highly effective. While they’re especially useful for high-contact sports like football or hockey, we recommend you wear one for light contact or low-impact sports as well. It doesn’t take much to cause irritation, and even a small amount of pressure on your braces can result in small cuts and abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

If you plan to continue playing sports throughout your orthodontic journey, we encourage you to consider an orthodontic mouthguard. These models are designed specifically to be used with braces, and are a worthwhile investment in your oral health! They are typically made of high-grade silicone, which helps to cushion your lips from any blows. This material also protects your brackets from any impact-related damage, and can even help keep your lips from getting caught in your braces (which is exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds, by the way.) Although orthodontic mouthguards tend to be a little bigger than standard models in order to fit over the brackets, the silicone helps to keep them comfortable.

Some orthodontic mouthguard brands like Shock Doctor and Tapout have been designed to adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment. This means they re-mold to your teeth multiple times throughout treatment as they begin to shift into their new positions. Put simply, they adjust themselves continuously based on your current bite. This is very useful for athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment as the mouthguard follows the curve of the treatment process.

Braces with Dudley Smiles means no missing out!

We recommend that all of our sports-playing patients invest in an orthodontic mouthguard. This is the perfect time of year to do so! With spring and summer sports just around the corner, you can prepare yourself now by purchasing an orthodontic mouthguard that will shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, and it protect the integrity of the orthodontic process itself, too. Keep in mind that while we feel an orthodontic mouthguard is optimal, wearing any mouthguard is better than not wearing a mouthguard at all!

So what happens if you are wearing a mouthguard, and still sustain an injury to your teeth or mouth while playing sports? Your first step should be getting in touch with your general dentist’s office as soon as possible. He or she will be able to diagnose if any actual tooth damage has occurred, including root or jaw bone fractures. Once you’ve been assessed by your dentist, give us a call and let us know what’s happening so we can schedule an appointment for you with Dr. Dudley. We’ll bring you in for a thorough examination and determine if any part of your braces needs to be replaced or repaired.

Getting braces with Dudley Smiles doesn’t have to mean giving up on the sports you love. We’ve got a talented team on deck who are dedicated to helping you continue participating in any athletics you want as we work towards a healthier smile together! Do you have questions or concerns about navigating sports as a future braces patient? Rest assured, we’re here to talk them through with you. The safety and success of your smile is our top priority, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly!

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