Wearing braces—especially new ones—proves to be a challenge in and of itself. It can be challenging to eat, talk, sleep, let alone play sports while wearing metal on your teeth. Nevertheless, braces should not hinder athletes, although there are several extra precautions that you have to take while playing sports with braces.
That said, here are some of the most important tips that you need to know if you engage in sports and wear braces:
1. Find the right mouthguard
A mouthguard is an essential piece of gear for all athletes who play sports with a high risk of facial impact (e.g., football, basketball, hockey, etc.). Wearing a mouthguard is especially important if you have braces since your mouth may be more susceptible to injury at this time.
Such injuries include:
- Tooth pushed into the gums
- Fractures, cracks, or chips
- Complete or partial tooth loss
- Tooth concussion
- Broken or dislocated jaw
However, using just any mouthguard may not provide enough protection for your teeth when you have braces. Talk to your orthodontics specialist so that they can help you find the right mouthguard (or make a custom one for you), especially if you have significant teeth misalignment. Sometimes, athletes with braces have to wear orthodontic mouthguards, which are typically bigger than regular mouthguards to make more room for the brackets.
2. Avoid sugary energy drinks
It is generally good advice for everyone to avoid sugary drinks for better oral health. Sugar can wear away the outer coating of your teeth (which is called the enamel) and make them more susceptible to cavities. And if you wear braces, it can be more challenging to remove sugar from your teeth via toothbrushing and drinking water.
Energy drinks can help improve your athletic performance by giving you quick boosts of energy. However, keep in mind that those boosts mostly come from the sugar content in energy drinks. Furthermore, it is often unnecessary to drink energy drinks unless you engage in high-intensity sports for long periods. That said, stick to water instead or create your own energy drinks with low sugar content.
3. Take care of your mouthguard properly
Just like your braces, your mouthguard needs proper cleaning to avoid bacterial growth and contamination. With that in mind, make it a habit to rinse your mouthguard with mild soap and warm water after every use. Don’t forget to do the same for your mouthguard case as well.
Also, it is a good idea to brush your teeth before and after using your mouthguard. Doing so can minimize the amount of mouth bacteria transfers on its surface.
4. Prioritize good oral habits
Everyone has to take good care of their teeth to avoid oral problems. But when you wear braces, good oral hygiene becomes more important because your teeth are extra sensitive. Moreover, removing food residue from your teeth can be difficult when you have metal brackets on them.
Hence, make oral hygiene an everyday priority. Brush your teeth at least five times a day, floss to the best of your ability, and use mouth wash. Also, make sure to use the correct way to brush your teeth with braces; brush at an angle over and under the band and bracket, brush the biting surfaces, and use a circular motion when brushing your gums.
5. Eat the right food
Nutrition is an essential factor in athletic performance. You need to fuel your body with the correct types of food to maintain an ideal physique and improve your performance when playing sports. However, creating an ideal diet while wearing braces can be tricky since there are many foods that you shouldn’t eat, such as corn, whole bagels, candy, hard vegetables, popcorn, gum, and more.
Start by crossing these foods off your diet and then replacing them with alternatives that won’t harm your braces. For example, instead of nutty energy bars, eat protein-packed sandwiches with soft bread instead. Or, if you are fond of munching on hard vegetables and fruits, cut them into small pieces to decrease their impact on your teeth.
Playing sports puts an inherent risk on your teeth. But that risk is usually more significant if you wear braces and they have just been installed. That said, it is imperative that you take extra measures to take good care of your teeth. Remember to protect them from dental trauma and avoid situations that can put your oral health at greater risk. This way, having this device won’t mean any harm to you and can improve your dental state.