Orthodontic tips for athletes

Here at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics, we love that many of our patients participate in athletics! Team sports are a great way to build a community, have fun, and stay active. However, it’s important to make sure your child takes some precautions to protect their body and mouth whenever they hit the field.

Did you know that a child is at an increased risk of mouth injury when they have braces? Orthodontic treatment should never hold a child back from a physical activity they enjoy! Instead, we strongly encourage our patients to gear up in protective wear to ensure that they don’t suffer a painful dental injury.

Every athlete—whether or not they have braces—should be wearing a mouthguard whenever they play their sport. This means wearing a mouthguard at every practice as well as during the big game. These soft, flexible plastic covers are designed to fit easily over your child’s braces, teeth, and gums to protect them from an injury to the mouth.

Protection against injury

About 1 out of every 3 traumatic dental injuries happens during athletics. However, most of these injuries are entirely preventable if athletes wear a mouthguard.

Protective mouthguards can (and should!) be worn by athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment, but for those with braces, traditional mouthguards may be inadequate. Regular mouthguards may impede your braces from shifting your teeth, but custom orthodontic mouthguards fit over braces, allowing them to continue transforming your smile.

Wearing a mouthguard is especially helpful for contact sports, but for people with braces, using mouthguards during low-impact sports can also prevent uncomfortable abrasions from forming inside your lips and cheeks. If you do experience a traumatic dental injury, seek emergency dental care immediately. If any damage to your orthodontic equipment should occur, call right away to schedule an appointment or find out if you need an emergency visit.

Why are mouthguards so important?

These simple pieces of gear offer ample protection for your child’s mouth, braces, and teeth. If your child experiences impact to the face or mouth, it can easily bend a wire out of its proper position or knock a bracket off of a tooth. Additionally, the abrasive edges of your child’s braces can cause severe damage to the mouth, cutting the inner cheeks, lips, and tongue. This heightened risk should not be taken lightly; we never want a child to be hurt by their braces.

Mouthguards also protect the teeth. According to a statistic from the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries, an athlete is more than 60 times more likely to damage their teeth if they neglect to wear a mouthguard.

This inexpensive piece of protective gear can easily save your child from a whole lot of pain down the road. In fact, the American Dental Association estimates that protective mouth gear prevents 200,000 dental injuries each year. However, the American Association of Orthodontics estimates that around 80 percent of young athletes don’t wear mouthguards regularly since they aren’t typically required.

Maintaining a healthy oral care routine

Athletics promote physical health, but sugary sports drinks that are popular among athletes can be detrimental to oral health. Sports drinks and similar products, such as energy chews and gels, are full of sugar and high in acid. They can break down tooth enamel, leading to cavities over time. Pick water over sports or energy drinks whenever possible. Since these drinks, gels, and gummies can stick to braces or get locked in by aligners, be sure to brush your teeth well if you consume any of these products.

Athletes are often on the go, but that shouldn’t mean rushing your oral hygiene. For athletes with braces, it is important to brush well after eating, even just after a quick snack before practice. If you plan to be at an athletic event all day, bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss with you to use after snacks or meals between competitions.

Just because your referee doesn’t require a mouthguard doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary! Call our office today to discuss getting a mouthguard for your child.

Book a free orthodontic consultation in Oak Lawn today!