Sports are an essential part of life for most teenagers, especially for those that play them. Many student-athletes are wary of getting braces because they think that their sporting careers will be put on hold while having orthodontic treatment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! At Dudley Smiles, we speak to many student-athletes and their parents about how they can continue playing sports while having orthodontic treatment.
The good news is you can absolutely play any sport while wearing braces!
While you can still play sports, we don’t want you to tackle the whole football team just for kicks! To ensure your teeth and mouth stay safe while participating in sports, you should take a few safety measures. Since the best defense is a good offense, let’s go over a few ways you can keep your mouth safe from sports-related injuries.
Mouthguard 101: Regular vs. Orthodontic
When playing sports, a mouthguard is your best teammate. They are the best way to keep your teeth safe from the potential harm that can come with sports.
Mouthguards come in two basic varieties: regular and orthodontic. Regular mouthguards are made of a thermoplastic material which you heat and mold to your teeth (including the brackets of your braces). Unfortunately, there’s a bit of an issue using regular mouthguards when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment; teeth move, and the mold doesn’t move with them. What’s worse is the mouthguard works against braces and can prevent them from doing their job, straightening your teeth. If a mold is too snug, it can forcibly push your braces from your teeth. This results in more trips to the orthodontist and an even longer treatment time. While we love to see our patients, we also want you to avoid unnecessary visits!
For those undergoing orthodontic treatment, an orthodontic mouthguard is a much better option as they are made for people with braces. Orthodontic mouthguards are made of high-grade silicone, and they feature large, rubber flanges which go under the lip to prevent them from being pushed back into the brackets. If you have ever caught your lip or inside of your cheek on a bracket, you know just how painful it can be. If the area then swells, it only gets worse, and the only remedy in sight is making an emergency appointment with your orthodontist.
Now that we’ve identified the distinct types of mouthguards, let’s distinguish the assorted brands that manufacture mouthguards and compare them. All the over-the-counter brands make great mouthguards and will work well. That said, the best mouthguard you can get is custom-made especially for you by your orthodontist or dentist.
Most experts agree that some of the best orthodontic mouthguards originate from Shock Doctor because they make mouthguards specifically for athletes with braces. Because their mouthguards adapt to upper teeth brackets, they prevent irritating cuts and scratches. Since they are made of medical-grade silicone, they work well with your braces because they adjust to the changes the teeth are making during treatment. They are also considered one of the slimmest, most lightweight mouthguards in addition to having a solid reputation in the market. Clients love them, and they are very reasonably priced.
Mouthguards with lip guards are recommended for athletes who wear braces. Lip guards stop you from inadvertently biting yourself, yet doesn’t hamper your ability to have conversations while wearing it. While a little larger than some mouthguards on the market, Vettex mouthguards are lightweight and straightforward. It should be pointed out these mouthguards are not custom-made and are not made especially for athletes. However, they are very cost-effective.
A favorite with mixed martial artists and wrestlers, Gladiator mouthguards are less easy to fall out of the mouth in these rough-and-tumble sports. Many athletes with braces choose this mouthguard due to its practical price tag and custom fit. The company also has a “self-impression kit” so making a mold of your teeth is both easy and convenient.
If you need to mold your mouthguard more than once, Tapout may be the mouthguard for you because it can be remolded to teeth multiple times. The mouthguards are very diverse in that you can use them with or without braces. They also boast a unique feature that promotes air-flow around the teeth and jaws. While they are a little more expensive than other mouthguards, they are easy-to-wear and don’t restrict your everyday speech.
While price is always a consideration when choosing a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that not only protects your mouth but also allows for your teeth to shift into their new, straighter position. The brands mentioned above are quality alternatives, but we can always have a custom-made mouthguard made by your orthodontist above the others. They are critical for protecting your mouth and prove to be a great investment.
We at Dudley Smiles encourage our patients to keep playing sports and work hard to educate them on how to protect their teeth and mouth while doing it! If you still have unanswered questions about your child playing sports in their braces, or just are nervous about braces period, please come in for a visit! We are happy to welcome you and your child to our Issaquah and Kent offices to put your mind at ease and give you techniques for playing sports in your braces in the safest and most comfortable way. We look forward to seeing you soon!