Mouthguards and Orthodontics

Mouthguards and Orthodontics

Is your child an athlete or do they play sports recreationally? Did you know that every year as many as 5 million Americans lose teeth as a result of sports injuries according to the American Dental Assistants Association? Is your child currently undergoing orthodontic treatment? If your child regularly plays sports, it is advised that they wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth. However, if your child is currently undergoing orthodontic treatment and plays sports, the American Association of Orthodontics tells parents that mouthguards are essential during sports and recreational play. 

What is a sports mouthguard?

Girl having a dental impression taken for a mouthguard

There are different types of mouthguards that can serve a variety of functions. As their name suggests, sports mouthguards are specifically designed for protecting the teeth and gums while playing sports. Sports mouthguards are made from clear or colored plastic that fits over the teeth and gums. In most cases, a sports mouthguard is used only on the upper teeth, however a double mouthguard is used on the top and bottom teeth. Each mouthguard is individually customized and can be made to accommodate metal braces as well. However with Invisalign, you will need to remove your aligners in order to wear a mouthguard. 

It is important to note that even though there are over the counter boil and bite mouthguards, these are generally not as effective as a mouthguard fabricated by a dental professional. In fact, certain league or team insurance coverage may only cover the damage if the mouthguard was made by a dentist. 

What Sports Need Mouthguards?

According to the American Dental Association, mouthguard use is recommended for the following: 

  • Acrobatics
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Bicycling
  • Boxing
  • Equestrian events
  • Extreme sports
  • Field Hockey
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Ice Hockey
  • Inline Skating
boxing gloves with a mouthguard in the middle

  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Racquetball
  • Rugby
  • Shotputting
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing
  • Skydiving
  • Soccer
  • Softball 
  • Squash
  • Surfing
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Why Wear a Sports Mouthguard During Orthodontic Treatment?

The simple answer to this question is that mouthguards protect your teeth and gums from damage, regardless of whether you are undergoing orthodontic treatment or not. However, suffering from sports-related dental trauma during orthodontic treatment has its own set of complications. For starters, your treatment may need to be delayed or discontinued until after the injury has healed. In addition, metal braces can also cause more damage in certain cases. 

According to the American Dental Assistants Association, the three most common sports-related injuries are fractured teeth, fractured roots, and tooth intrusion. Fractures in the tooth’s crown or roots can result in tooth pain, as well as possible pulp infections. In most cases, root fractures will require root canal therapy to prevent or remove an infection. 

Tooth intrusion is another issue whereby a tooth is driven deeper into the jawbone. This type of injury is quite common in young children who still have their primary teeth. This is because the alveolar bones that make up the tooth socket are not yet hardened. Therefore, they cannot resist force in the same way as an adult’s teeth. Tooth intrusion can cause further damage if it is not treated immediately. Wearing a mouthguard drastically reduces the chances of obtaining these injuries and the associated complications. 

Dr. Wade Williams Picture

Dr. Williams is current with all of the latest techniques and theories in the practice of orthodontics and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthodontic care to every patient. 

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