With fall just around the corner, there’s no shortage of sports to keep you busy if you are active in athletics. From football’s Friday night lights to Saturday morning soccer games, autumn is one of the best times of the year for sports fans and players alike! However, if you’re an athlete with braces on the horizon, you may find yourself fretting about this keeping you stuck on the sidelines. This is a very common concern we hear from our sports-playing patients, but fortunately, it’s one that is completely unfounded. Take it from the pros – from Venus Williams to Brett Favre to Dwight Howard, there are many professional athletes who have proven to straighten your smile doesn’t have to mean hanging up your jersey. In fact, you’ll be able to continue participating in any sports you play while undergoing orthodontic treatment with Langford Orthodontics!

Although wearing braces doesn’t have to keep you off the track, field, or court, you will need to take special care to avoid damaging your orthodontic appliance, or injuring your teeth or mouth. This goes double if you play contact sports! The good news is, there’s an extremely simple, incredibly effective way to protect your braces and your smile when you participate in physical activity.

Injuries that occur while wearing braces

As an athlete, you may have already experienced a sports-related injury. Some of the most common involve the mouth and jaw, and protecting your smile while playing sports is especially important when you have braces due to the increased risk of damage. If your mouth or your braces are hit by a ball or another player, you could experience a wide range of oral injuries, including (but certainly not limited to):

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

These injuries may not be life-threatening, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t painful! They can also cause serious damage that may be costly to fix. These are bad enough when you aren’t an orthodontic patient, but wearing a fixed appliance like braces can add a whole other element to these kinds of injuries. Braces can cut the inside of your mouth during a collision, and the braces themselves can end up with bent or broken wires and brackets. Playing sports that include contact, such as football, soccer, basketball, and hockey, increase the risk of things like bleeding gums, broken braces, and even potentially fractured teeth.

Dr. Langford talking with a family

The #1 way to protect your smile while wearing braces

The single best way you can protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard. While Langford Orthodontics strongly recommends our athletic braces-patients use an orthodontic model, even a basic mouthguard will help prevent damage to your braces and injury to your teeth and mouth.

Mouthguards are very accessible to almost everyone, easy to use, and a highly effective option for protecting your braces and your smile. While they are especially useful for high-contact sports, we recommend you wear them even when participating in light contact or low-impact sports, too. It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth, or cause tiny cuts and abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

If you plan to regularly play sports while wearing braces, an orthodontic mouthguard is well worth your time and investment. These are made of high-grade silicone and are designed specifically to fit over the brackets of your braces. This helps to cushion your lips, keeping them from bumping against your teeth and braces, and also protects the brackets from any impact-related damage. It will even stop your lip getting caught in your braces, which can be exactly as painful as it sounds! Although orthodontic mouthguards may be slightly larger than most regular mouthguards in order to fit over your braces, the silicone makes them just as comfortable to wear.

There are some orthodontic mouthguards, such as the brand’s Shock Doctor and Tapout, that can adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment. Because they adjust based on your current bite, re-molding multiple times as your teeth begin shifting into the desired positions, they’re a great option for any athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces. Most orthodontic mouthguards are widely available at sporting good stores.  They tend to be quite affordable and come in both strapped and unstrapped styles.

We strongly recommend you use an orthodontic mouthguard to give your teeth, mouth, and braces full protection when you are regularly participating in sports activities, but any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard at all!

Dr. Langford high five

Keeping your braces and your smile safe with Langford Orthodontics

Mouthguards are an excellent investment for braces patients who play sports. Not only will a mouthguard shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, but it will also protect the orthodontic process itself.

That said, if you do happen to incur an oral injury while wearing braces, get in touch with your dentist’s office as soon as possible, whether you were wearing a mouthguard or not. Your dentist will be able to diagnose any root or jaw bone fractures. Once he or she has assessed the damage, contact our West Knoxville or Seymour office at your earliest convenience. Dr. Langford will be able to check your braces to see if they need any repairs or need to be replaced. 

Here at Langford Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to helping you continue to do all the things you love while we straighten your smile. We want to make the entire orthodontic process as easy, rewarding, and stress-free as possible, and part of that is taking your lifestyle into consideration. It’s important to us that you stay as active as you want to be while undergoing braces treatment with us. Our goal is to give you a beautifully aligned smile and improved oral health, and we want you to feel confident in us every step of the way. If you have any questions or concerns about how to navigate sports in braces, please get in touch with us anytime and let us set your mind at ease.

With the protection of an orthodontic mouthguard and the support of our skilled staff behind you, you can play all your favorite sports and keep your braces and smile safe!

- Dr. Langford

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