Getting braces is a huge milestone for people of all ages, but what if you are a teenager working towards that athletic scholarship you need for college? Many of the patients who come through our doors are athletes who are excited to get a straighter smile but are worried about losing the ability to play their favorite sport due to orthodontic treatment. Although this is a common cause of first-time braces jitters, the idea that you have to trade in your uniform and cleats for a set of brackets and wires is a myth. The key to having the best of both worlds is following the rules of sports safety with braces.
At Hidden Smiles Orthodontics, we believe that defense is the best offense. If you are an athlete looking into getting braces or already have them, we’ve got the guide for you. Read below to find out how to keep yourself safe with braces – and what to do if you get hurt.
Choose the Right Orthodontic Treatment Option For Your Needs
When Dr. Parikh meets with a new patient, they usually know whether they’ll participate in a sport in the next several years. If this sounds like you, make sure to tell your orthodontist! This information is beneficial to know at an initial consultation because it could help guide you toward the appropriate treatment plan. Hidden Smiles Orthodontics has a wide range of treatment options for you.
As the traditional option, metal braces are often the first that come to mind when considering orthodontic treatment. These braces work by tightening the wire attached to a bracket glued to each tooth. With gentle, continuous pressure, your teeth are aligned over a period of 12-36 months, depending on the severity of your case, your mouth’s response to treatment, and your desired outcome. With metal braces, you will need to wear a mouthguard to protect yourself when engaging in physical activity.
Clear braces work the same way as metal braces. The difference is that clear braces use white ceramic brackets that blend in with the color of your teeth and provide a less noticeable appearance. Because this method is almost identical to metal braces, you’ll need to wear a protective mouthguard with these as well.
This removable treatment option uses a series of clear trays that adjust your teeth without the use of wires or brackets. Because they are clear, this option allows you to straighten your teeth with an almost invisible look. By wearing these trays for 22 hours per day for 9-15 months, you’ll see results in no time. With this treatment method, you could simply remove the trays for the duration of the physical activity – but don’t forget to put them back in as soon as you are done!
Lingual braces are similar to metal braces in that they include a system of brackets and wires to straighten your teeth. However, the main difference is that they are applied to the back of your teeth rather than the front. This means that they are practically invisible throughout the duration of your treatment!
Wear a Protective Mouthguard
Whether you’re playing football, volleyball, gymnastics, or cheerleading, wearing a mouthguard is an absolute necessity. Most dentists recommend using a mouthguard during sports even if the athlete doesn’t have braces, but it is especially important when you are undergoing treatment.
Not wearing a mouthguard means you risk harming yourself and your braces, which could be painful and expensive. The best way to ensure you can play your favorite sport and straighten your smile is to wear that mouthguard!
Regular Sports Mouthguard
This mouthguard is designed for general sports use and can easily be found at any sporting goods store near you. Convenient and affordable, sports mouthguards protect your teeth, lips, and jaw from any blunt force that may occur while engaging in physical activity.
While they are an excellent option for athletes without braces to consider, these may not be the best choice for athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment. That’s because they are not designed with braces in mind and may not even cover your teeth completely, meaning the risk of injury is still pretty high.
You can find these mouthguards at your local pharmacy. Because they are moldable, they offer a fit specific to your mouth. They are also an affordable and convenient option.
While they are far more protective than regular sports mouthguards, the over-the-counter option is not designed for use with orthodontics. Because they are meant to prevent individuals from grinding their teeth in their sleep rather than prevent injury, you may still experience a loose fit over your braces.
By far the best option for preventing injury and protecting your braces while you participate in athletics, the sole purpose of orthodontic mouthguards is to ensure your braces are safe on the field or in the gym. They are also designed to fit your braces precisely, giving you the best fit possible. Orthodontic mouthguards may be a little more expensive, but they are durable, long-lasting, and practical, meaning you should have no worries about after-school practice.
Remember, having any mouthguard is better than not having one at all – but make sure you consider your options carefully so that you can keep yourself safe no matter the sport you’re playing.
In Case of Emergency
We all know that accidents happen, but Dr. Parikh has some tips for handling an orthodontic emergency if they do.
The most important step is to stay calm and rest easy knowing that there are a series of trustworthy steps that you can take to ensure their injuries are taken care of. Common orthodontic injuries seen on the field include fractured teeth, missing teeth, or extruded or intruded teeth. These all sound intimidating, and it is critical to get immediate care if any of these injuries occur. Be sure to call your orthodontist as soon as possible to set up an appointment to address the orthodontic side of your injury. Depending on the severity of the case, you may want to go to the emergency room.
Hidden Smiles Orthodontics: Your Biggest Cheerleader
Are you an all-star athlete? Hidden Smiles Orthodontics is your number one fan. Dr. Parikh believes you shouldn’t have to choose between a great smile and your favorite sport. By following these guidelines, you will be on your way to victory.
If you haven’t set up your free consultation yet, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started today.