How to Protect Your Braces While Playing Sports

Dr. Mark Clauss September 1, 2018

Anybody who knows anything about sports knows that this is one of the best times of the year. Fall ball, Friday night lights, soccer on crisp autumn mornings – there’s something for everyone who loves being on the field or the court! If you’re an athlete with braces on the horizon, you may be worried that orthodontic treatment will have you stuck on the sidelines this season. This is a very common concern among our sports-playing patients, but we’re happy to report that straightening your smile doesn’t have to mean hanging up your jersey! Take it from the pros – from Venus Williams and Brett Favre to Cristiano Ronaldo and Dwight Howard, multiple professional athletes have gone through the orthodontic process without interrupting their livelihood. You’ll be able to continue participating in any athletics you’re involved in while undergoing orthodontic treatment with Clauss Orthodontics!

While braces won’t impede your ability to play the sports you love, you will need to take care to not damage your orthodontic appliance or injure your teeth or mouth. This is especially true for our patients who participate in contact sports. Keep reading below to learn about the #1 way you can protect your braces – and your smile – while participating in sports.

A word about injuries sustained while wearing braces

When it comes to common injuries experienced by athletes, sports-related trauma to the mouth and jaw is up there near the top of the list. If you’ve been playing sports a long time, you may have already experienced this at some point, but protecting your smile becomes even more important when you have braces. This is due to the increased risk of oral injuries, which can occur if your mouth or your braces are hit by a ball or another player. These injuries don’t typically tend to be life-threatening, but they can be painful, cause serious damage, and be costly to fix. Some of the typical injuries we see from sports can include:

  • lacerations to the cheeks, lips and tongue
  • chipped or broken teeth
  • dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • root fractures

When you have a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces, it can add another element to these kinds of injuries. Braces may cut the inside of your mouth during a collision, causing lacerations, and the braces themselves can be damaged, particularly bent wires and broken brackets. The best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is quite simple – wear a mouthguard! Although we strongly recommend our patients in braces wear an orthodontic model, even a basic mouthguard will help prevent any number of injuries, such as bleeding gums, broken brackets, or potentially fractured teeth. This is especially true when you play a sport that includes contact, like football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, and hockey.

If you do receive an injury to your mouth during practice or a game, we encourage you to get in touch with your general dentist’s office as soon as possible, whether you were wearing a mouthguard or not. Your dentist will be able to diagnose any root or jaw bone fractures. After he or she has assessed you, contact us so that we can check if any part of your braces need to be replaced or repaired.

Clauss orthodontics staff with patient

More on mouthguards

Mouthguards are readily available, simple to use, and incredibly useful for athletes who want to prevent damage and injury from occurring. While they are especially effective with high-contact sports, we recommend a mouthguard for light contact or low-impact sports, too. It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth, or to cause small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

If you plan to regularly play sports while wearing braces, an orthodontic mouthguard is a smart choice. These models are made from a high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces. They also protect your brackets from any impact-related damage, and can stop your lip from getting caught in your braces (which can be exactly as painful as it sounds!) Orthodontic mouthguards are often slightly larger than most regular mouthguard models, but the smooth silicone makes them just as comfortable to wear. We have these in stock in both of our offices and they’re complementary! Just ask one of our assistants for one at your next appointment.

There are some orthodontic mouthguards, such as Shock Doctor and Tapout, that can adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment. These re-mold themselves based on your current bite, and will do this multiple times throughout the orthodontic process as your teeth begin to shift, making them an excellent option for athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment. Most orthodontic mouthguards come in affordable strapped or unstrapped styles. We strongly recommend that any of our sports-playing braces patients consider having an orthodontic mouthguard to keep their teeth and mouth protected, but remember that any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard at all!

Dr Clauss with a patient

Keep your braces safe and your smile healthy with Clauss Orthodontics

As you now know, mouthguards are a smart preventative measure  for patients who play sports. Not only will they shield your teeth while they move into their new permanent positions, they also help to protect the orthodontic process itself. When you combine the protection of an orthodontics mouthguard with the support of our skilled staff, you end up with the best of both worlds: you can continue playing all your favorite sports and keep your braces and smile safe while you do it!

If you have an appointment scheduled to have braces put on and are nervous that it will mean missing out on the sports you love, we hope this blog has set your mind at ease! If you’re still unsure, or just need a little encouragement, our expert team is always standing by to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have about your treatment plan.  If you want more information about what sports in braces will look like, give us a call and let us walk you through it!  We want your orthodontic process to be as rewarding as possible, and we’re dedicated to helping you continue to participate in your favorite sports while protecting your teeth and braces.