Here at Kottemann Orthodontics, we treat many patients who are active in sports, and we are often asked if braces mean being stuck on the sidelines. Even though Dwight Howard rocked his way into the NBA with them, and Cristiano Ronaldo did not miss a trick with his, if you are a student-athlete, you may still be worried about how getting braces will affect you on the court or the field. Although this is a very common concern, it is, fortunately, one that is unfounded! You can continue playing any sport you are involved in at school or in your community while undergoing orthodontic treatment. However, you will need to be careful to not damage your braces, or injure your teeth or mouth, especially if you play contact sports. Keep reading to learn more about how you can protect your braces – and yourself – while playing sports.

Mouthguards

Mouthguards are the single best way to protect your teeth when playing a sport. Easy to use and proven to be effective, mouthguards help prevent damage from occurring, even when participating in high-contact sports like football and hockey. We recommend wearing them even for light contact or low-impact sports, too, since even the smallest amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, and even cause small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

For students who play sports while wearing braces, it is worth investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. While regular mouthguards will provide some protection, they are generally made of thermoplastic, which heats up in your mouth and molds to your teeth. This kind of mouthguard is not able to evolve with your teeth as they shift, and can actually end up working against your braces, interrupting the straightening process. If a regular mouthguard molds itself too snugly around the brackets, and if you sustained a hard enough hit at the same time, the impact could shift them, or even knock the brackets off completely. This could result in extra orthodontic visits and can contribute to an increase in the total treatment time.

Orthodontic mouthguards, however, are made from high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces. Not only does this help protect the brackets from any impact-related damage, it can also prevent painful scenarios like your lip getting caught in your braces. While orthodontic mouthguards may be slightly larger than regular mouthguards on average, they are just as comfortable to wear.

When you are aware of the differences between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you will be able to make the best decision based on your needs and the sports you will be participating in. We are going to take a look at some over-the-counter options for mouthguards that will provide effective protection for you and meet all your basic needs. That said, we strongly recommend that any of our sports-playing braces patients consider having a customized orthodontic mouthguard made by our Kottemann Orthodontics team.

women with mouthguard

Over-the-counter mouthguards

SISU

Here at Kottemann Orthodontics, we sell SISU custom-fit mouthguards. They work great with braces and we highly recommend them! Once they have been fitted, the guard can be worn on the top or bottom teeth, right over your braces. For our patients in braces, we suggest having an additional guard to fit on your bottom teeth, as this will help prevent your lips from getting cut on the brackets. SISU mouthguards are removable for up to 20 times, so it can be adjusted to fit as your teeth shift during orthodontic treatment. Simply bring it with you when you come in for an adjustment, and we can refit it right here in our office!

Shock Doctor

Shock Doctor is a well-known brand and commonly considered to produce some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Because they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they are very comfortable and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and are affordably priced in both strapped and unstrapped styles.

Vettex

For patients in braces who regularly participate in sports, mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but do not hinder your ability to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they are still an inexpensive, lightweight option. Do keep in mind, however, that they have a more generalized design, and are not made specifically for athletes in braces.

Tapout

Tapout mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a distinct design promoting airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they will re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. Because they are meant to adjust based on your current bite, they can be used by athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.

Injuries that occur while in braces

Whether you are wearing a mouthguard or not, if your mouth takes a direct hit while you are in braces, we recommend you get in touch with our office as soon as possible. We are always available in the event of an orthodontic emergency, and once we know what is happening with you and your braces, one of our orthodontists will be able to determine if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment or not. Remember the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard, preferably a custom-made orthodontic one by Kottemann Orthodontics. But even a basic mouthguard can do the trick and help prevent hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or potentially fractured teeth.

Teen plays tennis

Keep your smile safe with Kottemann Orthodontics

The protection that mouthguards provide is an excellent investment, shielding your teeth while they move into their new permanent positions, and protecting the straightening process itself. A custom-made mouthguard from Kottemann Orthodontics is optimal, but we encourage all of our patients to wear any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in any type of sporting activity.

Whether you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with us, or have an appointment scheduled to get your braces on if you are concerned about the impact they will have on your ability to play sports, get in touch with us today and let us set your mind at ease! Our Kottemann Orthodontics team is invested in helping you continue to participate in your favorite sports while protecting your teeth and braces, and we are always happy to answer any questions you have or talk through any concerns with you. With mouthguard protection and our skilled staff behind you,  you can have the best of both worlds: your favorite sports and a safe way to keep your smile on the straight and narrow!