Here at Moon Orthodontics, we’re proud to work with many local athletes to achieve a healthier, happier smile. We often hear from potential patients who worry that orthodontic treatment will have them sitting on the sidelines while we straighten their teeth. If this sounds like you, we’ve got good news! You don’t have to choose between improved oral health and staying active in a sport you love. There are some extra precautions you’ll need to take to keep your mouth safe, though. Let’s look at how you can protect your smile through summer sports, fall ball, and beyond!
The importance of keeping your smile safe throughout treatment
It’s not unusual for athletes across the board to experience injuries to the mouth from time to time. These can occur even if you’re being careful, but you should always take extra precautions if you’re playing sports while wearing braces. Because the brackets are attached directly to the surface of your teeth, direct hits or hard falls can increase your risk for oral injuries. The brackets and wires can also add a more serious element to these injuries, including:
- lacerations to the cheeks, lips, and tongue
- chipped or broken teeth
- dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- root fractures
While none of these mouth injuries are life-threatening, they can still be painful and may also be costly to treat or correct. The components of your braces can also be damaged if you take a direct hit. We’ve seen plenty of bent wires and broken brackets after practices and games! For these reasons, we encourage all of our braces patients to wear a mouthguard when playing sports.
Protecting your oral health with an orthodontic mouthguard
Wearing a mouthguard is one of the easiest ways to protect your mouth and braces from sports-related injuries! The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that wearing the right mouthguard can lower your chances of injury by almost twofold. But what makes a mouthguard the “right mouthguard”?
Mouthguards come in both regular and orthodontic models. If you plan to play sports while you’re wearing braces, an orthodontic mouthguard is likely to be your best option. These are designed specifically for use with braces and made from a high-grade silicone material that cushions your lips. This has several advantages, including:
- keeping your lips from bumping up against your teeth and brackets
- stops your lips from getting caught in your braces (ouch!)
- helps protect the brackets and wires from any impact-related damage
Orthodontic mouthguards are designed with a bit of extra space for your braces, so they fit easily over the brackets, teeth, and gums. This makes them slightly larger than regular mouthguards, but they’re still very comfortable to wear. Some models, like those produced by popular brands Shock Doctor and Tapout, adjust to the movements your teeth make during treatment. That means they can be molded and remolded repeatedly as your new smile begins to take shape. Since they adjust themselves based on your current bite, they can be an excellent choice for athletes in braces!
There are a wide range of orthodontic mouthguards available online and in most major sporting goods stores. They come in both strapped and unstrapped styles, depending on your preference and needs. Most tend to be very affordable. If you’re not sure which mouthguard would be best for your particular needs, let us know and Dr. Moon will be happy to recommend one for you.
Are orthodontic mouthguards necessary?
While we strongly recommend an orthodontic mouthguard for our patients in braces, even a basic mouthguard will provide you with some protection. Any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard at all when it comes to keeping your smile safe! Keep in mind that it only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to cause irritation or abrasions inside your mouth.
What if there’s an orthodontic emergency?
As effective as mouthguards can be, accidents can still happen. While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do occur from time to time. These include any:
- serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
- swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
- severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck
If your mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports, let us know as soon as possible! Depending on the circumstances, we may recommend an emergency appointment with Dr. Moon. Don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care clinic or emergency room if you feel that’s your best option, though. Some patients worry that their orthodontic process will be interrupted or delayed by emergency treatment, but we can always pick up where we left off or adjust your treatment plan once the emergency has passed!
Keep your smile looking its best with care from Moon Orthodontics
Although oral injuries are rarely serious, they can still delay or negatively impact your orthodontic treatment. Even minor emergencies can be upsetting, which is why we encourage all of our patients to wear a mouthguard when playing sports!
Whether you’re a current braces patient or expect to have braces put on soon, keep your mouth safe by finding the right mouthguard for your smile. If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your mouth during treatment, feel free to get in touch any time. Our team will be happy to walk you through all your options and ensure you’re safe on the field or the court!