a teen receiving orthodontic treatment in a dental chair.

New England Orthodontic Specialists is proud to support athletics in our community! Many of our patients play sports for their school or a local organization, and it’s always exciting to hear what they’ve been up to. If you’re an athlete who’s considering treatment, you may be worried that braces will leave you sitting on the sidelines while we straighten your smile.

Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth! You’ll be able to enjoy all the sports you love throughout the treatment process, but there are some extra precautions you’ll need to take to keep your mouth safe. Let’s look at how you can protect your smile on the field, court, or anywhere in between!

Why are extra safety measures necessary for your smile?

Athletes are no stranger to injuries, and blows to the mouth are especially common. Bumps and bruises can occur even when you’re being careful, but it’s important to take safety precautions seriously if you’re a braces patient.

Because the brackets are attached directly to the surface of your teeth, you’re at an increased risk for oral injuries. Brackets and wires can add a more serious element to any injuries incurred, particularly where direct hits or hard falls are involved. Some of the issues we’ve seen among our more athletic patients include:

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

These mouth injuries may not be life-threatening, but they can still be painful and may also be costly to treat or correct. The braces themselves can also be damaged—we’ve seen plenty of bent wires and broken brackets over the years!

How You Can Keep Your Smile Safe When Playing Sports

What’s the best protection for braces patients who play sports?

There’s a lot that can go wrong with mouth injuries, which is why it’s such good news that a simple solution exists in the form of mouthguards! This is one of the easiest ways to protect your mouth and braces from sports-related injuries. Mouthguards come in both regular and orthodontic models, but if you plan to play sports while in braces, an orthodontic mouthguard is your best option.

What’s the difference? Orthodontic mouthguards are designed specifically for use with braces! They’re made from a high-grade silicone material that cushions your lips, which has several advantages, such as:

  • 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

These mouthguards are designed with extra space for braces, so they fit easily over your teeth, gums, and brackets. Although this makes them slightly larger than regular mouthguards, they’re still very comfortable to wear. Some models, like Shock Doctor and Tapout brands, adjust to the movements your teeth make during treatment. That means the mouthguard can be molded and remolded repeatedly as your new smile begins to take shape, an excellent solution for athletes in braces!

Orthodontic mouthguards are available online and in most major sporting goods stores. They come in a variety of styles, so it’s easy to find one that works for your specific needs and preferences. If you’re not sure which mouthguard would be best for your smile, let us know and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Are orthodontic mouthguards a necessity?

When it comes to keeping your smile safe, any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard at all! It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to cause irritation or abrasions inside your mouth. While we strongly recommend an orthodontic mouthguard for braces patients, even a basic mouthguard will provide you with some protection! Whatever model you choose, be sure to wear it when participating in any sports activities. This is especially important for those where impact, contact, or collisions are likely to occur.

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. This includes those with:

  • 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. Neil or Dr. Diana. 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 once the emergency has passed!

How You Can Keep Your Smile Safe When Playing Sports

Protect your smile with care from New England Orthodontic Specialists

Even minor oral injuries can be upsetting. That’s why our expert team encourages every patient to wear a mouthguard when playing sports! Whether you’re a current patient or plan to have braces put on soon, keep your mouth safe by finding the right mouthguard for your smile. Have questions about protecting your mouth during treatment? Get in touch with us any time! We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and ensure your smile stays safe through all your favorite activities.