Baseball, soccer, football—these are just a few sports kids across the country are gearing up to play over the summer and into the fall. That means it’s the perfect time to talk about sports safety for your child’s smile! Here at Elm Tree Orthodontics, we’re proud to support student-athletes in the Hamden and North Haven communities and work with many of them to achieve straighter smiles.
If your child plays sports and has orthodontic treatment in the future, they may be worried that this will leave them sitting on the sidelines. You’ll be relieved that orthodontic patients can still participate in the sports they love! However, they’ll need to take a few extra steps to protect their mouth. That’s where mouthguards come in!
What are mouthguards? Why are they necessary?
Mouthguards are one of the easiest ways to keep your child’s smile safe if they play sports. This appliance comes in regular and orthodontic models and is affordable and accessible. It only takes a small amount of pressure on braces to irritate the gums or cheeks, so it’s essential to know which model to choose for your child’s needs.
Regular mouthguards provide some protection, but they’re made from a thermoplastic material that heats up as it sits in the mouth, molding it to the teeth and brackets. This molding cannot move with the teeth as they move towards their new positions, which can work against your treatment by interfering with the straightening process. This can lead to more appointments or longer treatment times in some cases.
Unexpected injuries are the most significant reason we recommend an orthodontic mouthguard for patients who wear braces and play sports. These models are designed specifically for orthodontic patients and fit comfortably over traditional braces. Instead of thermoplastic, they use a high-grade silicone material that cushions the lips and prevents them from bumping against the teeth and braces.
Who should wear a mouthguard?
Anyone who plays a sport can benefit from wearing a mouthguard! As the parent of an athlete, you probably know better than most that dental injuries are incredibly common. But did you know that you can prevent many of these by using a mouthguard? Whether your child participates in competitive or recreational sports, a mouthguard will help keep their smile safe, especially if impacts or collisions are likely to occur.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
There are three mouthguards, all of which vary in cost, comfort, and protection levels. These include stock, mouth-formed, and custom-made mouthguards.
Because stock mouthguards are ready-made, they don’t require a visit to the dentist or orthodontist. They can be found in most sporting goods stores, but they come in a more limited range of sizes. Stock mouthguards 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 set in your child’s mouth, where the pressure of their bite further shapes it. This gives braces patients a more personalized option that you can still purchase at many sports stores. We’re happy to help your child with a final molding if needed!
Custom mouthguards are available in most dental and orthodontic offices. We create these appliances using impressions of your child’s mouth, which allows us to provide the most accurate and comfortable fit possible. While this option is a bit more costly and requires a visit to our office, you can’t beat the customized protection they offer your child’s teeth and gums.
Whatever mouthguard you choose for your child should fit in their mouth comfortably and securely, be easy to clean, and have high-impact energy absorption. It should never restrict your child’s breathing in any way.
What if there’s an orthodontic emergency?
Although mouthguards offer active kids a great deal of protection, accidents can still happen. True orthodontic emergencies may be rare, but they do occur. When we talk about orthodontic emergencies, we mean:
- any severe 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 your teeth, mouth, face, or neck
If your child’s mouth takes a direct hit while playing sports, let us know as soon as possible! Depending on the circumstances, Dr. Desai may recommend an emergency appointment. If a visit to urgent care or the ER is necessary, don’t worry about this 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.
Give your child’s smile the best protection with Elm Tree Orthodontics
Even minor dental injuries can be upsetting, no matter how tough a kid is. That’s why we recommend that every athlete wear a mouthguard while practicing or gearing up for a big game!
Our Hamden team loves supporting our active patients, and we’re committed to helping your child continue playing the sports they love while we straighten their smile. If you have any questions about how we can help protect your child’s oral health during the treatment process, get in touch any time, and we’ll be happy to talk you through all the options!