Contact sports are becoming increasingly popular among children, teenagers, and young adults, which is good for their overall physical and mental health. However, some players also happen to be orthodontics patients, leaving many players and parents wondering whether it’s safe to participate in contact sports while wearing braces or similar dental devices. In the UK, approximately a quarter of children will lose or injure a front tooth at some point, and up to 40 percent of dental injuries are related to sports.
To protect against dental injuries, dentists recommend using mouthguards for children or players participating in contact sports. This position is backed by the British Orthodontic Society (BOS), which advises patients to have a mouthguard over their braces. Even the Rugby Football Association recommends this, and in the UK, a mouthguard is seen as a vital part of sports kits. As orthodontic specialists such as Jonathan Alexander Abt know, mouthguards reduce the risk of dental injuries significantly.
Choosing a Mouthguard
Players with braces are advised to use a different mouthguard from the type used by athletes without braces. This is because throughout the orthodontic treatment process, the teeth continue to shift into their preferred position, meaning a conventional ‘boil and bite’ mouthguard might not be as effective after a few uses. To remedy this, orthodontists can design a special mouthguard to cater to any movement.
In choosing a mouthguard, a user should opt for one that is comfortable and fits well. It should have adequate thickness, be firm enough to stay fixed even after impact, and allow the opposing jaw’s teeth to come into contact with the biting surface. This aspect is crucial to reduce the risk of jaw fracture.
Maintaining the mouthguard will ensure it can serve its purpose effectively for a long time. Rinsing with mouthwash or cold water before and after use is recommended, as is cleaning it using a toothbrush. Occasionally, washing the mouthguard with cool soapy water is recommended, provided that it is rinsed thoroughly. Storing the mouthguard in a perforated container will ensure air circulates through while preventing damage.
With good care, a mouthguard should be usable for a while. However, they are prone to wear and tear, so regular inspection of the biting surface and edges can determine the appropriate time to purchase a new one. Checking the fit is also vital, especially among players who also have orthodontic braces beneath their mouthguard.