At Dietrich Orthodontics, we love working with local athletes to achieve a healthier, happier smile. We often hear from active families who worry that orthodontic treatment will have their athlete sitting on the sidelines while we straighten their teeth. If this sounds like you, we’ve got good news! You don’t have to choose between improved oral health and staying active in a sport you love. You’ll need to take some extra precautions to keep your mouth safe, though. Let’s look at how you can protect your smile through summer sports, fall ball, and beyond!
The importance of keeping your smile safe throughout treatment
It’s not unusual for athletes across the board to experience injuries to the mouth now and then. Accidents can happen even if you’re being careful, but you should always take extra precautions if you’re playing sports while wearing braces. Because the brackets are attached directly to the surface of your teeth, direct hits or hard falls can increase your risk for oral injuries. The brackets and wires can also add a more serious element to these injuries, including:
- lacerations to the cheeks, lips, and tongue
- chipped or broken teeth
- dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- root fractures
While none of these mouth injuries are life-threatening, they can still be painful and may also be costly to treat or correct. The components of your braces can also be damaged if you take a direct hit. We’ve seen plenty of bent wires and broken brackets after practices and games! For these reasons, we encourage all of our braces patients to wear a mouthguard when playing sports.
Protecting your oral health with an orthodontic mouthguard
Wearing a mouthguard is one of the easiest ways to protect your mouth and braces from sports-related injuries! The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that wearing the right mouthguard can lower your chances of injury almost twofold. But what makes a mouthguard the “right mouthguard”?
Mouthguards come in both regular and orthodontic models. If you plan to play sports while wearing braces, an orthodontic mouthguard is necessary. These are designed specifically for use with braces and made from a high-grade silicone material that cushions your lips. This has several advantages, including:
- keeping your lips from bumping 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
A standard “boil & bite” mouthguard is not okay to wear with braces. The hot, moldable plastic will adhere to the braces and then we have to cut it out. Do NOT use a boil & bite mouthguard with braces!
Orthodontic mouthguards are designed with extra space for your braces, so they fit easily over the brackets, teeth, and gums. This makes them slightly larger than regular mouthguards, but they’re still very comfortable to wear.
A wide range of orthodontic mouthguards is available online and in most major sporting goods stores. They’re even available at our office! Grab one at your next appointment, at Dr. Dietrich’s cost. They’re available here for your convenience.
Are orthodontic mouthguards necessary?
We strongly recommend an orthodontic mouthguard for our patients in braces. Remember that it only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to cause irritation or abrasions inside your mouth.
What if there’s an orthodontic emergency?
As effective as mouthguards can be, accidents can still happen! True orthodontic emergencies are rare, but they do occasionally occur. These include any:
- severe 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! We may recommend an emergency appointment with Dr. Dietrich, depending on the circumstances. Don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care clinic or emergency room if you feel that’s your best option.
Some patients worry that emergency treatment will interrupt or delay their orthodontic process. We can always pick up where we left off or adjust your treatment plan once the emergency has passed!
Keep your smile looking its best with care from Dietrich Orthodontics
Although oral injuries are rarely serious, they can still delay or negatively impact your orthodontic treatment. Even minor emergencies can be upsetting, so we encourage all of our patients to wear a mouthguard when playing sports!
Whether you’re a current braces patient or expect to have, braces put on soon, keep your mouth safe by finding the right mouthguard for your smile. If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your mouth during treatment, feel free to get in touch. Our team will be happy to walk you through all your options and ensure you’re safe on the field or the court!