It’s hard to believe, but summer is winding down, which means another school year is upon us. For many kids, cooler temperatures and a return to the classroom means the start of fall sports.
But what if your child got braces over the summer? Should you be worried about your little all-star taking a blow to the mouth, leading to an expensive and painful trip to the orthodontist’s office?
The good news is there is no reason for your child to stop playing sports just because he or she is undergoing orthodontic treatment. Sports are a wonderful way for children to learn valuable life skills, such as teamwork, perseverance, good sportsmanship, and problem-solving skills. You don’t have to put these life lessons on hold for braces.
On the other hand, braces are an investment. You are spending money to ensure your child has a beautiful, healthy smile that looks great and, more importantly, functions properly. With this in mind, it’s important to take the proper steps to protect your child’s teeth – both now and in the future.
Mouth Guards for Braces (and after Braces)
Sports – especially contact sports – can lead to a variety of injuries to the face and mouth. Furthermore, you don’t necessarily have to be involved in a heavy-hitting sport like football to get whacked in the mouth. An errant elbow during basketball, or a high hockey stick on the ice can cause a serious injury to the mouth. With braces on, even an otherwise harmless bump on the mouth can cause injury to the lips, cheeks, and gums. Once an adult tooth is knocked out of the mouth, it must usually be replaced with an implant.
Not all sports organizations make mouth guards mandatory, but it’s a good idea for your child to wear one, especially if he or she is involved in a contact sport. Basketball, football, soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, rugby… the list goes on and on. You should also consider a mouth guard if your child is involved in martial arts or other lessons that involve sparring with an opponent.
Although many teams issue “boil and bite” mouth guards, these are not ideal for braces. With a boil and bite mouth guard, your child receives a one-size-fits-all plastic mouth guard that is designed to be dipped briefly in boiling water, then quickly inserted into the mouth and molded to the teeth. The problem with boil and bite mouth guards is they are difficult to properly size, even without braces. When you add brackets and wires to the mouth, it’s difficult to get a proper fit. This means the mouth guard is less effective, which exposes your child to the risk of injury.
Your orthodontist can make a mouth guard specifically designed to fit your child’s mouth. Depending on how long your child’s orthodontic treatment lasts, you may need to have a few mouth guards made as your child’s teeth move to their permanent position. Your orthodontist may also recommend a silicone orthodontic mouth guard made specifically for braces.
Once your child has completed orthodontic treatment, it’s important to continue to protect his or her smile with a mouth guard. If your child is reluctant to wear one, you can point out how many professional athletes wear mouth guards. Players in the NFL, NBA, and NHL can be seen removing their mouth guards after a play or during breaks. They understand the importance of protecting their smiles!
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