Do you have a Little League superstar gearing up for orthodontic treatment? Maybe your quarterback is scheduled to have braces placed before the season kicks off this fall? Baseball, softball, soccer, football, volleyball—whatever sport your child loves to play, Feil Orthodontics is proud to support them and work with them to achieve a healthier smile! However, many of our athletic patients worry that treatment will leave them sitting on the sidelines as we straighten their teeth. Fortunately, that’s not the case! Orthodontic patients can still participate in any sport they normally would as long as they take a few extra steps to protect their mouth. Let’s take a look at what that entails!
Mouthguards: simple, effective, and widely available
Mouthguards are the simplest and most effective solution when it comes to keeping your child’s mouth safe during sporting activities. You can find this essential appliance in regular and orthodontic models, both of which are affordable and widely available. Since it only takes a small amount of pressure on your child’s braces to irritate their gums or cheeks, it’s important to know which model best fits their needs.
While regular mouthguards do offer some level of protection, they’re made from a thermoplastic material that heats up as it sits in the mouth. This molds it to the teeth and brackets, meaning the mouthguard can’t move with the teeth as they shift towards their new positions. This can actually work against what we’re trying to do by interfering with the straightening process, which may lead to extra appointments or longer treatment times.
On the other hand, orthodontic mouthguards are specifically designed for orthodontic patients and fit comfortably over traditional braces. Instead of a thermoplastic material, they use high-grade silicone that provides better cushioning for the lips, preventing them from bumping up against the teeth and braces. This reduces the risk of oral injury significantly.
Who should wear a mouthguard?
Mouthguards are suitable for anyone who plays sports, but they are especially beneficial to orthodontic patients who wear braces. As the parent of an athlete, you probably already know how common dental injuries are, but the good news is that many of these can be prevented with a properly-fitted mouthguard! Whether your child plays competitive or recreational sports, a mouthguard will help keep their smile safe, particularly if they participate in anything involving impacts or collisions.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
There are typically three types of mouthguards available. These will vary in cost, comfort, and protection levels, but wearing any one of them is safer than not wearing any mouthguard at all.
Stock mouthguards are ready-made, so you won’t need to visit a dentist or orthodontist to purchase one. In fact, they can usually be found in most sporting goods stores! Keep in mind, however, that they come in a more limited range of sizes and also require the mouth to be shut to keep them in place. Since they’re not customized to the patient’s mouth, these models can be less effective than others.
This type of mouthguard softens when placed in hot water. Once it’s cooled down, it’s placed in your child’s mouth to set. The pressure of their bite further shapes it, resulting in a more personalized option that can still be readily purchased at many sports stores. Our team is happy to help your child with a final molding if needed.
You’ll find custom mouthguards in most dental and orthodontic offices. We can create these appliances using an impression of your child’s mouth, providing them with the most accurate and comfortable fit possible. Although this option is a bit more costly and requires a visit to our office, the customized protection they offer your child’s smile simply can’t be matched by over-the-counter models!
When choosing a mouthguard for your child, make sure it fits in their mouth comfortably and securely. It should also have high-impact energy absorption, be easy to clean, and never restrict their breathing in any way.
How to handle orthodontic emergencies
Mouthguards offer active kids a great deal of protection, but accidents can still happen. While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do occasionally occur. What do we mean by orthodontic emergencies? In general, this refers to:
- any serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
- swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
- severe pain or discomfort in the teeth, mouth, face, or neck
If your child’s mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports, let us know as soon as possible so Dr. Feil can assess the situation. Depending on the circumstances, he may recommend an emergency appointment to get a good look at any damage. If you feel that a visit to urgent care or the ER is necessary, don’t worry about it interrupting your child’s orthodontic process. We can always pick up where we left off or adjust their treatment plan once the emergency has passed and things have settled down.
Protect your child’s smile with help from Feil Orthodontics
Your kid may be a tough nut, but even minor dental injuries can be upsetting. That’s why we recommend mouthguards for every athlete, whether they’re practicing or heading out for a big game! We’re committed to helping your child continue playing the sports they love while we straighten their smile. If you have any questions about protecting your child’s mouth throughout the treatment process, get in touch any time and we’ll be happy to go over the options with you!