Sports and Braces

Updated November 20, 2023
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More than 45 million American kids play at least one sport—and three in four families with kids in the household shuttle at least someone to practices and games. But, once braces come on, many families worry about their child’s ability to hit the field, the court or the rink. It’s the same for adults—many play in recreational teams and worry about the impact braces will have.

  • What happens if your or your child gets hit in the face with a ball?
  • Do you or your child need to wear special protection to protect the braces?
  • Is it even safe to play contact sports with braces?

While no two braces-wearers are the same, here’s the bottom line: your child can play ANY sport with braces.

That said, it’s important to understand what to expect once the braces come on so you can help your child stay safe and how to keep them—and their smiles—safe at all times.

It’s All About the Mouthguard…

When you or your child have braces, your orthodontist will recommend that your son or daughter wear an orthodontic mouthguard whenever he or she is engaged in contact sports. This includes sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and baseball. It’s also beneficial for hockey, wrestling, and most other forms of physical contact sports. This is not the same mouthguard you’ll find in a discount sporting goods store, though.

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What Does an Orthodontic Mouthguard Do?

Braces are highly durable, but they are also sensitive to pressure. Slight changes in their alignment can create problems for the improvements they are designed to create.

An orthodontic mouthguard minimizes this risk by protecting the actual braces from damage—and keep in mind these are different from traditional mouthguards. Orthodontic mouthguards are not made of the same hard plastic used in sports mouthguard. Instead, they’re made using a silicone material that’s more comfortable to wear. The material is engineered for added shock absorbency, which means any impact dissipates before it reaches your teeth or your child’s teeth.

When choosing an orthodontic mouthguard, it should:

  • Fit your mouth comfortably
  • Fit over your gums, teeth, and braces without strain
  • Be designed to allow you to boil it for a custom fit

You can purchase your orthodontic mouthguard at most sport equipment stores. Be sure to purchase quality and ensure it is the right type. Several brands are available.

Let your Coach Know What’s Up

Parents and athletes feel better when their coach has an eye on them. Let your coach know you need this specific type of mouthguard and why. Your coach will tell you what the rules of play are. Most often, you may need an upper or a lower arch guard to play. You can find orthodontic mouthguards to fit all requirements.

Take Care of It—and Wear It!

After finding the perfect guard, you have to wear it consistently to protect your braces and your teeth. It’s also important not to chew on it, suck on it, or shove it into your pocket. Remember, this is important equipment that’s designed to keep your teeth safe. You should use a mild, antimicrobial solution to clean it after each use. If it starts to crack or becomes less of a snug fit, replace it.

Stay in Your Sport – Just Protect Your Teeth

Dr. Harrison wants you to remain active and enjoying your favorite sports. Let our team know about your activities. We can help you choose the right type of mouthguard for your needs and provide follow-up care after the season to ensure your braces are healthy.

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