Baseball, soccer, football—these are just a few of the sports kids across the country are gearing up to play over the summer and into the fall. That means it’s the perfect time to talk about sports safety for orthodontic patients! Here at Gleason Orthodontics, we’re proud to support student-athletes in the community and work with many of them to achieve straighter smiles. If your child plays sports and has orthodontic treatment on the horizon, they may be worried that this will leave them sitting on the sidelines. You’ll be relieved to know that orthodontic patients can still participate in any sport they normally would! However, they’ll need to take a few extra steps to protect their mouth. That’s where mouthguards come in!
What is a mouthguard? Why are they necessary?
Mouthguards are one of the simplest ways to keep your child’s smile safe if they’re active in sports. This appliance comes in regular and orthodontic models, both of which are affordable and easy to access. It only takes a small amount of pressure on braces to irritate the gums or cheeks, so it’s important to know which of these models would be best for your child’s needs.
Regular mouthguards provide some protection, but they’re made from a thermoplastic material that heats up as it sits in the mouth, molding it to the teeth and brackets. This molding cannot move with the teeth as they shift towards their new positions, which can work against what we’re trying to do by interfering with the straightening process. This may eventually lead to extra appointments or longer treatment times for some patients.
This is the biggest reason we recommend an orthodontic mouthguard for patients who wear braces and play sports. These models are designed specifically for orthodontic patients and fit comfortably over traditional braces. Instead of thermoplastic, they use a high-grade silicone material that cushions the lips and prevents them from bumping against the teeth and braces.
Who can wear a mouthguard?
Anyone who plays a sport can benefit from wearing a mouthguard! As the parent of an athlete, you probably know better than most that dental injuries are incredibly common. But did you know that many of these can be prevented with the use of a mouthguard? Whether your child participates in competitive or recreational sports, a mouthguard will help keep their smile safe, especially if impacts or collisions are likely to occur.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
There are three types of mouthguards, all of which vary in cost, comfort, and protection levels. These include stock, mouth-formed, and custom-made mouthguards.
Because stock mouthguards are ready-made, they don’t require a visit to the dentist or orthodontist. They can be found in most sporting goods stores, but they do come in a more limited range of sizes. Stock mouthguards also require the mouth to be shut to keep them in place. Since they’re not customized to the patient’s mouth, these models can be less effective than others.
This type of mouthguard softens when placed in hot water. Once it’s cooled down, it’s set in your child’s mouth, where the pressure of their bite further shapes it. This gives braces patients a more personalized option that can still be purchased at many sports stores. We’re happy to help your child with a final molding if needed!
Custom mouthguards are available in most dental and orthodontic offices. These appliances are created using impressions of your child’s mouth, which allows us to provide the most accurate and comfortable fit possible. While this option is a bit more costly and requires a visit to our office, you can’t beat the customized protection they offer your child’s teeth and gums.
Whatever mouthguard you choose for your child, it should fit in their mouth comfortably and securely, be easy to clean, and have high-impact energy absorption. It should never restrict your child’s breathing in any way.
What if there’s an orthodontic emergency?
Although mouthguards offer active kids a great deal of protection, accidents can still happen. True orthodontic emergencies may be rare, but they do occur from time to time. When we talk about orthodontic emergencies, we mean:
- any serious 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 child’s mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports, be sure to let us know as soon as possible! Depending on the circumstances, Dr. Gleason may recommend an emergency appointment. If a visit to urgent care or the ER is necessary, don’t worry about this interrupting your child’s orthodontic process. We can always pick up where we left off or adjust their treatment plan once the emergency has passed and things have settled down.
Give your child’s smile the best protection with Gleason Orthodontics
No matter how tough a kid is, even minor dental injuries can be upsetting. That’s why we recommend that every athlete wear a mouthguard whether they’re practicing or gearing up for a big game! Our team loves supporting our active patients and we’re committed to helping your child continue playing the sports they love while we straighten their smile. If you have any questions about how we can help protect your child’s oral health during the treatment process, get in touch any time and we’ll be happy to talk you through all the options!