Protecting your smile while playing sports is essential when you have braces. Mouthguards help protect your teeth, gums, cheeks and lips from injury. If you participate in basketball, boxing, hockey, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, track and field, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding, skydiving, soccer, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, or wrestling, it is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that you wear a mouthguard.
Types of mouthguards
Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the "boil-and-bite" fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from your orthodontist. While you have braces or appliances on your teeth, you must choose a mouthguard that protects your mouth while at the same time can fit comfortably over your braces or appliance. This means that "boil-and-bite" and custom-made mouthguards are no longer options until after your braces/appliances are removed.
Pre-made mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, while custom-made mouthguards are specially designed by your orthodontist to provide optimal protection against mouth injuries. If you wear braces, it is imperative you wear a mouthguard for contact sports. Let your doctor know if you play sports so they can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.
Taking care of your mouthguard
Similar to a retainer, braces, or any other special dental appliance, it is important to take care of your mouthguard by storing it properly and keeping it clean, as well as knowing when to replace your old mouthguard with a new one. Here are a few simple ways to keep your mouthguard clean and working correctly:
- Gently scrub your mouthguard after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Store your mouthguard in a protective case.
- Do not leave your mouthguard in the sun or in hot water, because it may melt or become deformed.
- Replace your mouthguard at the beginning of every new sports season. You should also replace your mouthguard if you notice it has become worn and no longer fits properly.
- Do not wear a retainer with your mouthguard. If you wear braces, your orthodontist will help recommend a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your braces.
- Do not chew on or cut pieces off of your mouthguard. Mouthguards come in different shapes and sizes; ask your orthodontist which is best for you.
- Bring your mouthguard to each dental/orthodontic checkup, so your doctor can check to make sure it's still in good shape!
Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries incurred by athletes. Our goal is to help minimize your chances of a sports-related injury to your smile. Be sure to ask your doctor about mouthguards at your next appointment — GO TEAM!