Mouthguards for Braces
Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries incurred by athletes. Protecting your smile while playing sport is essential when you have braces due to the increased risk of oral injuries, including mouth lacerations if you are unlucky enough to be hit by a ball or another player.
There is the potential for injury whether you have braces or not when playing sports like basketball, football, hockey, skateboarding, soccer, martial arts, wrestling, boxing and even track and field.
In fact even non-contact sports or recreational activities can potentially have increased risk of laceration injury with braces on. A special mouthguard for braces is highly recommended for your protection.
What is a Mouthguard?
A mouthguard is a shock absorbing appliance made of flexible material that is well fitting over all the top teeth to help protect the teeth and lower jaw from breaking, and prevents you from accidentally biting your lips, tongue or cheeks. A strong blow to the face may otherwise result in an injury to the mouth and joints.
You can play any sport while you have braces on, however the risk of laceration injury increases. There are many types of mouthguards but only a few mouthguards that are recommended for those of you who have braces. The main difference is that an orthodontic mouthguard needs to fit well and be remouldable or flexible so that it can adjust or be adjusted to fit over the braces.
A custom (dentist) mouthguard will prevent the teeth from moving and therefore defeat the whole purpose of having braces to straighten the teeth. Custom made mouthguards moulded by dentists can be expensive, especially given the fact that after a few months in braces the mouthguard that was initially custom fit to the teeth will no longer be comfortable or fit. This then results in you having to buy new custom made mouthguards on a regular basis. Though, once the braces or appliances are removed a custom fit mouthguard is the best.
A remouldable or flexible mouthguard allows the ability to change when your teeth change. Because your teeth are moving during orthodontic treatment over time your mouthguard will not fit properly. When this happens an orthodontic mouthguard can easily flex or be remoulded to fit again, allowing for the teeth to move and orthodontic treatment to progress. Before deciding on which type of mouthguard you are wanting, make sure to check with your coach or instructor as some sports like wrestling require a double mouthguard.
Moulding it to Your Braces
While you have your braces we recommend purchasing a generic mouthguard and moulding it yourself following the manufacturer’s instructions. There are many manufacturers of mouthguards that make wider versions for those wearing braces that are either flexible pre-made mouthguards or boil-and-bite mouthguards. These types of mouthguards can be purchased at most sports stores and are therefore easily accessible.
We have from experience noted that the boil-and-bite mouthguards are easiest to use. After being immersed in hot water, it is soft and mouldable, allowing you to shape the guard around your teeth and braces. As the teeth are moving throughout orthodontic treatment, there will come a point in time when the mouthguard doesn’t fit as well as it did initially. This then shows that you need to immerse the mouthguard in hot water and reform it over and around the braces and teeth again like you did the first time.
Braces can be a challenging time. Minimise your chances of mouth injuries while undergoing treatment with braces. Getting used to the appliances and how to care for them and clean them while undergoing orthodontic treatment can certainly take some getting used to. Be sure to ask us at your next appointment about mouthguards, should you have any queries.