Did you know that tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body? While it’s true that enamel is stronger than bone, that doesn’t mean it’s invincible! Unlike most other tissues in our bodies, enamel doesn’t have the ability to repair itself. That means that any time you damage your teeth, they have to be repaired by a trained dentist or orthodontist. For our Bennett Orthodontics patients who plan on playing sports with braces, we often hear questions and concerns about how braces treatment will affect their ability to play or if they’ll have to sit the season out. 

This topic often comes up with our patients when they’re looking to start orthodontic treatment. The team at Bennett Orthodontics is here to give you peace of mind! You can continue to play whatever sport you’d like while undergoing orthodontic treatment, as long as you take some precautions. The single best way to keep your mouth and appliances safe while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard. 

There are many mouthguard options available today, including orthodontic and non-orthodontic designs. Each of these options has pros and cons, so we’re here to tell you more about them so you can make the choice that’s best for your lifestyle and your needs. Keep reading below to learn more!

Playing Sports With Braces

Regular mouthguard vs. orthodontic mouthguard

Mouthguards are hands-down the easiest and most effective way to protect your smile while playing sports. Whatever type of mouthguard you choose, we recommend wearing it for high-contact sports, like hockey and football, low-contact sports, and even during warmups and practice. This will ensure your teeth and appliances are protected no matter what comes your way!

It’s true that both standard and orthodontic mouthguards will provide some level of protection for patients wearing braces, but there are some key differences to be aware of before choosing what’s best for you. Standard mouthguards are made from thermoplastic, a material that will heat up in the mouth and then mold to fit around the teeth. For patients in braces, this can be dangerous since the mouthguard could conform to snugly around the brackets. If this happens, the force of a blow could knock the brackets right off the teeth, resulting in additional visits to Dr. Bennett for repairs and even longer treatment time.

This kind of molding also doesn’t shift with your teeth as they move into their new positions. This can work against the straightening process, causing you to see less than desirable results and even longer treatment times. Patients who choose this model of mouthguard have to replace it often to keep up with the shifting of the teeth and prevent any unwanted side-effects.   

Orthodontic mouthguards are designed with your treatment and comfort in mind. The material used to make them is high-grade silicone that provides extra cushion for the lips, preventing them from rubbing against the braces, which can cause small cuts inside your mouth. This feature is ideal for braces patients since it can help to avoid painful scenarios like getting a lip caught in your brackets during a game, which leads to swelling and may even require additional visits with Dr. Bennett to release it. 

In order to make room for your braces, orthodontic mouthguards are slightly bulkier than standard models. However, they’re just as comfortable to wear and provide an added layer of protection specifically for your braces. At Bennett Orthodontics, we care about your safety, so we provide you with the proper mouthguard for use during your treatment!

Another option available to athletes in braces is over-the-counter mouthguards. These are designed specifically for braces patients and you can usually find them online or in some sporting goods stores. The most common brands on the market are ShockDoctor, Gladiator, and Vettex. These models can be a bit more expensive than standard mouthguards, but the extra cost is worth the added protection and extra comfort they provide! While nothing can take the place of a customized orthodontic mouthguard, we would recommend these brands over a regular mouthguard (and a regular mouthguard over nothing at all!)

When should mouthguards be worn?

If you’re playing a contact sport while wearing braces, you should keep your mouthguard in at all times. This includes warm-ups, during practice, and throughout the entire game. Injuries can occur unexpectedly and you never want to be caught off-guard! We even encourage our patients who play low-contact sports to wear mouthguards, although the risk isn’t quite as high if you fail to do so.

For our patients in Invisalign treatment, we recommended removing your aligner and replacing it with a mouthguard while playing sports. Aligners fit a little more loosely than a mouthguard, so this will better protect your teeth while you’re on the field or court. If you do remove your aligner, always place it somewhere clean and safe and put it back in as soon as you’re finished playing.  

Playing Sports With Braces

Caring for your orthodontic mouthguard

Orthodontic mouthguards can last a long time if they’re cared for properly. Since bacteria can easily grow on mouthguards, you should be sure to clean it every time you take it out. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste to gently clean the inner and outer surfaces, using an antimicrobial solution as a bacteria-killing rinse. For deeper cleaning, leave your mouthguard to soak overnight in a glass of water with a denture-cleaning tablet. Remember to always put your mouthguard back in the case when you’re not wearing or cleaning it!

Bennett Orthodontics is here to help you keep your smile safe!

Orthodontic mouthguards are the best way to protect your smile even when you’re playing sports. However, accidents do still happen and there may be times when damage is unavoidable. If this is the case, Dr. Bennett and the team at Bennett Orthodontics is here for you! Give us a call and we’ll determine if you should come into the office for an emergency visit or if there’s an at-home fix that’ll solve your problem!

Bennett Orthodontics is dedicated to giving you the smile you deserve without interrupting your life! To learn more about how you can get started with orthodontic treatment while continuing to play sports, contact our office today