Sports Safety: Can You Use a Mouthguard To Protect Your Braces?
Playing sports is an important part of the lives of our younger patients (and even a few adults!). They enjoy hitting the football field, the baseball diamond, or the soccer pitch for a game or two each week. They often ask, “Can you wear a mouthguard with braces?” or “Do I need a special mouthguard with braces?”
At Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics, we know the simple answer to these questions is “yes,” but we also know there is also more to each answer. It’s common to see players wearing mouthguards in sports to protect their teeth, but not everyone wears one. Braces patients need to wear mouthguards because mouth injuries could be made worse with braces. A proper mouthguard can protect a braces patient from more severe injuries during sports.
What Types of Mouthguards Are Available?
There are two main types of mouthguards available. One type is called the “boil and bite” mouthguard, which means it can be heated in boiling water and custom-molded around the teeth. The other is a custom-fitted mouthguard produced by a dentist or orthodontist. Both can protect your teeth during sports, but one might be better than the other for braces patients.
The ‘Boil and Bite’
The boil and bite mouthguard can be bought in stores, usually at major retailers or sports stores. These mouthguards are fairly simple to use. You boil them until they are soft and pliable, then mold them around your teeth and braces and bite down, so the mouthguard is molded perfectly. Once that is done, you carefully remove the mouthguard and allow it to cool fully. It hardens as it cools so that it can be used from that point on.
These mouthguards have a big advantage of not only being custom-molded to your teeth but also being able to be custom molded again as your teeth shift during braces treatment. These mouthguards can usually be remolded two or three times before you have to replace them. The downside is that they may not fit quite as well as a custom-made mouthguard from the dentist or orthodontist — at least, at first. As your teeth move, gaps may form between the mouthguard and the braces or teeth. An impact could cause injury by the mouthguard slamming into the teeth or braces. That’s why it’s important to make sure the mouthguard fits properly and redo the mold right away if it doesn’t.
The Professionally Made Mouthguard
A dentist or orthodontist may offer customized mouthguards. These usually involve taking digital scans of the mouth and creating a mouthguard that perfectly fits your teeth and braces. The advantage is that you will get a perfect fit on the mouthguard — initially, at least. It might also be covered wholly or partially by dental insurance or FSA/HSA accounts.
The disadvantage is that as your teeth move during your treatment, so your mouthguard will need to be adjusted by the dentist or orthodontist regularly, or you will need a new one to be protected fully. That can become costly over time. Because of this, it may be better for a braces patient to use the boil and bite mouthguard during treatment.
Why Do I Need a Mouthguard?
Many players use mouthguards for certain sports, whether they wear braces or not. But a sports injury can be more damaging if you wear braces, which is why it’s so important to use a mouthguard. High impacts from bats, balls, or even another player’s elbow can cause a serious mouth injury without braces.
With braces, the soft tissue of the cheeks, lips, and tongue can hit the braces and wires. That can cause cuts or tears inside the mouth, which can cause significant injuries and bleeding. It can be expensive to treat these injuries, with the costs of medical response and the cost to repair your braces.
This is why we can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a mouthguard to play sports, especially if you have braces. We want Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics patients to achieve the smile of their dreams without having to give up the sports they love. Mouthguards can allow our patients to do both!
If you want to learn more about mouthguards and you’re in the Columbia, IL, or Waterloo, IL, areas, you can give us a call. We’ll be happy to assist you, and if you’ve been wary of getting treatment because you were afraid you couldn’t play sports and wear braces, we’d love to change your mind! Start with a virtual consultation, and we’ll guide you from there! Rest assured, you can play sports and still get the smile of your dreams!
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