Depending on where you live, you may already be gearing up for fall ball or Friday Night Lights. This is always an exciting few months, even if it’s a little bit different this year (okay, a LOT bit different.) If you play sports for your school or community, you may have some unknowns on the horizon, especially if you had braces put on this summer. You may be worried that being an orthodontic patient will mean sitting on the sidelines throughout the treatment process, but there’s no reason for you to miss out on the action!
We treat quite a few athletes here at Westfall Orthodontics. Many had the same concerns when they began their orthodontic journeys, but professionals like Venus Williams and Dwight Howard have shown us that straightening your smile doesn’t mean you have to hang up your jersey. You’ll still be able to continue participating in athletics while you’re in braces, you’ll just have to be careful not to damage them or injure your mouth.
The easiest way to do that is by wearing a mouthguard when you’re playing sports or participating in any physical activity. Keep reading below to learn more about the #1 way to keep your braces—and your smile—safe while you’re on the field or court this fall!
Sports-related injuries in orthodontic patients
It’s not entirely uncommon for athletes to experience injuries to the mouth and jaw area. Because the brackets are affixed directly to your teeth, braces patients are at increased risk of oral injuries, which often occur if your mouth or braces are hit by the ball or another player. These can be painful and costly, even when they’re not serious. Some of the most common injuries we see with patients who play sports are:
- lacerations to the cheeks, lips, and tongue
- chipped or broken teeth
- dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- root fractures
Brackets and wires add another element to oral injuries. They can cut the inside of your mouth if you take a direct hit, and the components themselves can be damaged. We see our fair share of bent wires and broken brackets!
As we mentioned above, wearing a mouthguard best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while participating in physical activity. While we strongly recommend an orthodontic model if you’re in braces, even a basic mouthguard will give you some protection from bleeding gums, broken brackets, or fractured teeth. This is especially important if regularly play contact sports like football, wrestling, and basketball.
How mouthguards work
What makes mouthguards such a great addition to your sports bag? They’re easy to find, simple to use, and highly effective. Although they’re a must-have for high-contact sports, we recommend them for low-impact sports or practices, too. That’s because it only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to cause irritation or small abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.
If you intend to play sports regularly while you’re in braces, we encourage you to look into getting an orthodontic mouthguard. Because they’re designed to be used with braces, the high-grade silicone cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and brackets. This cushioning also protects the brackets from any impact-related damage. Last but certainly not least, they 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, the silicone makes them just as comfortable to wear. Some models, including those made by popular brands like Shock Doctor and Tapout, are designed to adjust to the movements your teeth make during treatment. That means they allow re-molding multiple times as your new smile starts to take shape. Since they adjust based on your current bite, they’re an excellent choice for athletes going through orthodontic treatment with braces.
Most orthodontic mouthguards can be found online or in most major sporting goods stores. Both the strapped and unstrapped styles tend to be affordable. If you’d prefer to go through our practice, Dr. Westfall will be happy to recommend and order a mouthguard for you based on your specific needs. Investing in any kind of orthodontic mouthguard will keep your teeth smile protected throughout the fall season!
Westfall Orthodontics is here to keep your smile safe
Mouthguards are an excellent option for braces patients who also play sports. They not only shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, but also help protect the orthodontic process itself. Although an orthodontic mouthguard is optimal, any mouthguard is better than not wearing one at all when you are participating in athletics.
Even when you’re wearing a mouthguard, you can still sustain an oral injury. If this happens, get in touch with your general dentist as soon as possible. He or she will be able to diagnose any root or jaw bone fractures. Once you’ve been assessed for damage by your dentist, touch base with our office so Dr. Westfall can determine if any part of your braces need to be replaced or repaired as well.
Whether you’re a current braces patient or have braces on the horizon, you may be feeling a bit worried about what the next several months have in store. Here at Westfall Orthodontics, we’re committed to helping you continue to do the things you live while you’re in braces, including sports! We work hard to provide you with a positive orthodontic experience, from your first visit to your last (and beyond.)
If you have any questions or concerns about how to safely play sports as a braces patient, get in touch with us anytime. We hope to see you on the scoreboard soon!