All About Mouthguards: Playing Contact Sports When You Have Braces
The final results of orthodontic work represent a significant commitment from the patient. This is not only the money that the treatment costs, but the amount of time you've invested in the treatment—whether this is traditional braces or transparent aligners (also called invisible braces). Protecting your teeth (along with the orthodontic appliance attached to them) should be a paramount concern during your treatment. So does this mean contact sports should be avoided when you have braces?
Mouthguards Are Essential
You can still play contact sports when you have braces, but you must wear a mouthguard. Even sports that may be classified as low-contact, thereby being low-risk, will require protection from a mouthguard. Arguably, a mouthguard becomes even more critical when you're undergoing orthodontic work.
With traditional braces, a mouthguard will protect both your teeth and the orthodontic appliance, while also protecting the soft tissues of your mouth from the appliance. Blunt force trauma to the teeth while wearing braces can be catastrophic. Not only might your teeth be damaged, but your braces can easily become warped (and therefore no longer functional). The wires of the braces may cause serious lacerations to the soft tissues of your mouth during such an accident. So is it just a case of putting in a mouthguard and hitting the field? Not quite.
Generic or Customized
It's crucial to get the green light from your orthodontist before wearing a specific mouthguard. It must be compatible with your braces, which isn't always the case. Some patients may be able to use a generic mouthguard, which is placed in hot water to make it pliable. It's then put back into the mouth, where it adheres to the dimensions of your teeth and braces. Some patients' dental arches may not be able to accommodate both your braces and the presence of the mouthguard, so a customized mouthguard may be required.
Transparent aligners (such as Invisalign) are a different matter. Since they fit directly over the teeth, it might feel like you're already wearing a mouthguard. This is the extent of any similarity since these aligners will not protect your teeth from external trauma. Your teeth can still be damaged, which would irreparably damage the thermoplastic aligner too. A mouthguard cannot safely be worn over transparent aligners.
Patients generally remove their transparent aligners before playing contact sports, before inserting a mouthguard. This approach is safe, but you must remember that your aligners need to be worn for around 22 hours per day, so your sporting activities cannot decrease this time. Your sporting activities will need to be carefully scheduled.
Anyone playing contact sports should wear a mouthguard, but a cautious approach is needed when you wear braces too.
For more information on braces, contact a company like Monacell Orthodontics.