Even though most sports are winding down for the winter, there’s still quite a bit of action happening, whether you’re on the field or watching from the stands. If you regularly participate in athletic activities and have braces treatment on the horizon, you may be worried that orthodontics will keep you stuck on the sidelines. This is a common concern among the athletes we treat here at Thurman Orthodontics, but luckily, it’s also one that is completely unfounded. We only have to look at the pros for reassurance – from Dwight Howard to Cristiano Ronaldo, there are a number of professional athletes who have shown us that straightening your smile doesn’t have to mean giving up your game!
While wearing braces, you’ll still be able to participate in any sports you normally would. However, you will need to be careful to avoid damaging them, or injuring your teeth or mouth. This is especially true if you play contact sports. We want to help you keep your braces and your smile safe while you’re on the track, field, or court! Keep reading below to learn more about how to avoid sports-related injuries as we straighten your smile.
Common orthodontic injuries in athletes
People who participate in sports aren’t strangers to mouth and jaw injuries. In fact, this is one of the most common areas for injury among those who play sports regularly. This may be something you’ve already experienced firsthand! Protecting your mouth is always important, but it becomes even more when you’re in braces.
A fixed orthodontic appliance like braces increases the risk of oral injuries, particularly those that are caused by a hit from a ball or another player. Although these injuries are rarely life-threatening, they can still be painful, cause serious damage, and any damage may be costly to fix. Some of the injuries we’ve seen in braces patients who play sports include:
- lacerations to the cheeks, lips and tongue
- chipped or broken teeth
- dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- root fractures
Braces are constructed of wires and brackets that can add another element to these types of injuries. Bent wires and broken brackets can cut or otherwise injure the inside of your mouth, and collisions make this even more likely. The good news is, there’s a really simple way to avoid injury and protect your mouth and braces while playing sports! Mouthguards are the easiest and most effective way to keep your smile in good shape when you participate in physical activities. Here at Thurman Orthodontics, we recommend our braces patients invest in an orthodontic model, but even the most basic mouthguard will provide some level of protection.
More on orthodontic mouthguards
Mouthguards are easy to find, easier to use, and have been proven to be highly effective. They’re an excellent option for all athletes, and while they’re especially useful for high-contact sports like football or hockey, we recommend you wear one 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 and abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.
If you plan to continue playing sports throughout your orthodontic process, an orthodontic mouthguard is a worthwhile investment in your oral health! These models are designed specifically to be used with braces. The high-grade silicone will help cushion your lips from any blows, and will also protect the brackets from any impact-related damage. They can even help keep your lips from getting caught in your braces, which is exactly as uncomfortable as it sounds. Although these orthodontic mouthguards tend to be a little bigger in order to fit over the brackets, the silicone they’re made of keeps them comfortable.
Some orthodontic mouthguard brands like Shock Doctor and Tapout are designed to adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment. This simply means they will re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they begin to shift into their new positions. In other words, they adjust themselves based on your current bite. This is useful for athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment as the mouthguard will follow the curve of the treatment process.
Most orthodontic mouthguards come in affordable strapped or unstrapped styles, and can often be found in major sporting goods stores. If you’d rather go through our practice, Dr. Thurman will happily recommend and even order one for you based on particular needs.
Never miss out with braces from Thurman Orthodontics
We encourage all our sports-playing patients to invest in an orthodontic mouthguard and this is the perfect time of year to do so! It will keep your braces and mouth protected throughout the fall and winter season, and into spring and summer sports, too. An orthodontic mouthguard does more than shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions – it also protects the integrity of the orthodontic process itself. Although we feel that an orthodontic mouthguard is optimal, wearing any mouthguard is better than not wearing a mouthguard at all!
Should you happen to receive an injury to your teeth or mouth while playing sports, we suggest getting in touch with your general dentist’s office as soon as possible, even if you were wearing a mouthguard. He or she will be able to diagnose any tooth damage, including root or jaw bone fractures. After you’ve been assessed by your dentist, let us know so we can schedule an appointment for you with Dr. Thurman. He’ll do his own examination and determine if any part of your braces needs to be replaced or repaired as well.
Getting braces with Thurman Orthodontics doesn’t have to mean giving up on the sports you love. Our talented team is committed to helping you continue participating in any athletics you want as we work towards a straighter smile together! Any time you have questions or concerns about navigating sports as a braces patient, we’re here to talk them through with you. The safety and success of your smile is our top priority!