The importance of a mouthguard when playing sport

The importance of a mouthguard when playing sport

Getting braces can be big transition in the life of a tween or teenager. Becoming accustomed to having foreign objects on your teeth, the added cleaning and care requirements, and the discomfort of adjustments all take some getting used to.

If you are active in sports, the potential for injury is greater when wearing braces, so make sure you speak to your orthodontist about an orthodontic mouthguard to ensure your smile is protected.

Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are some of the most common injuries incurred by athletes. Protecting your smile while playing sport is essential when you have braces due to the increased risk of oral injuries, including mouth lacerations, if braces are hit by a ball or another player.

Mouthguards are particularly important when playing contact sports such as football, wrestling, volleyball, soccer, basketball and hockey. If you are engaging in non-contact sports such as gymnastics or recreational activities such as skateboarding, mountain biking, rollerblading, trampolining and horse riding, wearing a protective mouthguard is also advised.

Only a third of children aged 5-17 years wear a mouthguard while playing organised sports, even though other protective materials such as helmets are common. Mouthguards are one of the most important pieces of protective equipment as not only do they save teeth, they also protect jaws.

Orthodontic mouthguards are a necessity to protect teeth and braces from injury. An orthodontic mouthguard needs to fit well and be reformable. Mouthguards made with gel fillings are not suitable for use when undergoing orthodontic work.

Are there any limitations to playing sport while wearing braces?

During orthodontic treatment with braces, you can play any sport – but the best way to protect your teeth is with an orthodontic mouthguard.

What is a mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a cushioning appliance made of flexible material that fits snugly over the teeth to help prevent injuries to the teeth and mouth. An effective mouthguard is like a ‘crash helmet’ for teeth and jaws. It also prevents the jaws coming together fully, reducing the risk of joint injuries and concussion.

What are the advantages of using a mouthguard?

A mouthguard can help cushion a strong blow to the face that otherwise might result in an injury to the mouth and joints. It acts as a shock absorber protecting the teeth and lower jaw from breaking and prevents you from accidentally biting your lips, tongue or cheeks. A misdirected elbow in a one-on-one basketball game or a fall off a skateboard can leave you with chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss.

What about braces?

A mouthguard is recommended for people who wear braces as it can help prevent damage to the brackets from a blow to the face and provides a barrier between the braces and cheek or lips, reducing the risk of laceration injuries.

Talk to your orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that is best for you. If you have a removable retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.