Sports are a big part of growing up for many children. Wearing braces to correct dental issues is also common among school age kids. The question often asked by parents and kids alike is “Can sports still be played while wearing braces?” Happily, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes” as long as you take the necessary steps to protect your teeth and braces.
The risk for mouth, teeth and jaw injury is higher when playing sports and many programs recommend or even require that players wear some type of mouth guard to protect their pearly whites. According to the American Dental Association (AMA), playing sports without a mouth guard doubles the risk of tooth and mouth injury, regardless of whether the participant has braces or not.
Types of Mouth Guards
There are several mouth guard options you can choose from to protect your teeth during sporting events with some options being more effective than others, especially for those wearing braces.
Stock Protectors – These mouth guards are of a standard, preformed design and are used for general mouth protection. They can be purchased inexpensively at department and sporting goods stores, but cannot be adjusted and are uncomfortable to wear. They also tend to make breathing and speaking difficult. Stock mouth guards are not recommended by dentists for those wearing braces.
Boil and Bite Protectors – This type of mouth guard provides a better, customized fit because they are made from thermoplastic which is softened using hot water and then shaped around the teeth. Boil and bite mouth guards are also available at sporting goods and department stores at a little higher cost than stock guards. However, this style of mouth guard is still not recommended by dentists for those wearing braces.
Orthodontic Protectors – This type of mouth guard is custom made using special material by orthodontists to fit on an individual basis. Although they are more expensive than the other two options, orthodontic mouth guards provide the best protection and are the most comfortable to wear.
You should keep in mind that both stock and boil and bite mouth guards usually only cover the upper teeth and, therefore, offer the least overall protection. Your dentist can refer the most effective types of custom-fit mouth protectors that are comfortable and durable as well as easy to maintain and clean. Any mouth guard used for sports should not hamper breathing or the ability to speak.