Whether you’ve got school-aged children with braces participating in sports or you’re an active adult yourself with orthodontics, you may be wondering how having can affect your favorite physical pastimes.
Whether it’s full-contact sports like football, hockey, boxing, or martial arts or just light-contact sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer, being involved in sports activity can lead to issues if you’re wearing braces. Nobody with orthodontics has to give up their favorite sports, though – there are ways to protect yourself, and your braces, while still enjoying yourself.
The Dangers Faced
Orthodontics certainly aren’t cheap. They’re an investment in a beautiful, healthy smile, and you’ve got to protect that investment until the treatment runs its course. Playing sports can jeopardize that, as can any activity that runs the risk of receiving a violent collision to the face or mouth.
Catching a baseball or a hockey puck to the mouth is bad enough without having braces. In children, an event could easily result in bloodied lips or broken, loosened, or knocked out baby teeth. In adults, the issues could be even more serious, as adult teeth don’t grow back and would need dental reconstruction surgery to fix any problems.
With braces, though, there are even more issues. Receiving a blow to the mouth could easily damage orthodontics, requiring one – or several – office visits to get braces back in working order. The chances of having the inside of the mouth and lips cut up and damaged can be even greater as well if there’s enough force behind the collision.
The only silver lining here is that someone with orthodontics might not lose any teeth, as the braces help keep them in place. In fact, there have been instances where someone with braces suffered less damage to their teeth after a sports-related injury thanks to their braces. However, it’s a small comfort when you’re sitting in the orthodontist’s office for hours to get your braces repaired.
A Simple and Effective Solution
So is the solution is to give up sports completely? Of course not – there are ways to protect your braces from harm so you can still enjoy contact sports. These methods are simple and effective and have been met with plenty of success from active children and adults who wear orthodontics during sports.
The best option for protecting braces during sports activity is a mouthguard. However, an orthodontic mouthguard differs from a standard sports mouthguard that’s required for contact sports like football or boxing – those mouthguards are usually made from hard plastic. Some are rather simple, while others can be molded to the shape of your teeth by boiling them to soften the plastic and then biting down on them, but both of these varieties are not ideal for people with braces.
Specifically, these mouthguards are usually too narrow to accommodate the extra space someone with orthodontics needs, and the plastic they’re constructed from could also be too rigid. By comparison, orthodontic mouthguards are usually made of a sturdy but malleable silicone and are wide enough to fit over teeth and braces alike while still being snug in the mouth.
Caring for Your Orthodontic Mouthguard
Orthodontic mouthguards are easy enough to get. Many sporting goods stores stock them regularly, and a dentist or orthodontist can order you one as well. Keeping your mouthguard clean in between uses, though, that’s another story.
And yes, orthodontic mouthguards do need to be cleaned periodically. For the most part, this involves using a toothbrush and toothpaste on them regularly. You can also use an anti-microbial solution to avoid your mouthguard from becoming colonized with fungi or bacteria once you take it out. Regular maintenance is important to ensure good oral health, after all.
The Bottom Line
Can you play sports while fitted with braces? Absolutely. Do you have to take extra steps to protect your orthodontics while you’re on the field? It’s more than just a good idea. However, thanks to orthodontic mouthguards, you or your child can still participate in all the sports activities you or they want, all without worrying if you’ll end up damaging those braces. Will an orthodontic mouthguard help you make the game-winning touchdown? That’s up to you.