Kid clenching a mouthguard in his mouth

If you currently wear braces or Invisalign®, you know the importance of properly maintaining them on a daily basis. Playing sports, though, can pose a very different challenge than the rigors of everyday wear. Not only could damage to your orthodontic appliances cause serious physical damage, but it can also entail costly repairs. So what can you do to protect your million-dollar smile and the gear that is shaping it?

According to the American Dental Association, the use of a mouth guard dramatically decreases the risk of sports-related dental injuries. In fact, mouth guards are mandatory for participation in many sports. If a patient has braces, an orthodontic mouth guard is recommended even for sports that do not typically require one.

Types of mouth guards

There are several types of mouth guards:

  • Molded: Bought in-store and boiled at home to create a custom fit
  • Stock: Inexpensive and come ready to wear, but often don’t fit well
  • Orthodontic: Not molded to your teeth and has extra room for appliances
  • Custom: Molded in your dentist’s office

Custom mouth guards made by a dentist and molded mouth guards are generally not recommended for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment since the position of their teeth changes throughout the process.

Orthodontic mouth guards

We recommend using an orthodontic mouth guard if you do have braces, Invisalign or other orthodontic appliances. These mouth guards are not molded to the teeth and provide space for orthodontic appliances.

An orthodontic mouth guard differs from a traditional mouth guard in that it is made of silicone and focuses on protecting your lips and cheeks from rubbing against your teeth. Orthodontic mouth guards also protect your braces and soften any contact you may experience while playing sports.

If a patient has braces, an orthodontic mouth guard is recommended when participating in sports. If a patient is in Invisalign treatment, they may keep the aligners in while wearing a mouth guard.

Common sense

Of course, if you experience hard contact with your mouth or face, check your orthodontic appliances. In case of an emergency and you notice your teeth or appliances are damaged in any way, phone your general dentist or the ER (depending on severity) immediately to schedule an appointment.