Athletes and orthodontics: A winning smile can be yours
Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. Basketball star Dwight Howard. And a particularly well-known football star, especially in Wisconsin–Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. What do these athletes have in common? Besides their record-breaking accomplishments in sports, they ALL wore braces.
If you’re an athlete who keeps calling “time out” on orthodontic treatment, the team at Rapids Orthodontics is here to get you in the game! Keep reading to learn which orthodontic treatment is best for athletes, how to protect your smile while you play, and what to eat and drink to stay fueled without damaging your teeth.
Braces vs. Invisalign® clear aligners
The good news: orthodontic treatments like Invisalign aligners and braces shouldn’t affect you or your child’s ability to play sports if proper precautions are taken. Whatever type of orthodontic treatment you choose, you should always wear a mouthguard while playing to keep your mouth safe.
So, which orthodontic treatment is best for athletes? No two mouths are exactly the same, so let’s review the pros and cons for each.
Pros for braces:
- Braces are attached to your teeth, so they’re super secure–you never have to worry about losing them during the chaos of a game or keeping track of them if you take them out to eat or drink.
- Braces always stay in place, so they’ll never distract you or interfere with your ability to breathe while you are on the move.
Cons for braces:
- If you get hit in the face while playing, the metal wires or brackets on your braces could get damaged or poke your teeth, lips, or gums. (However, wearing a custom mouthguard can greatly reduce the chances of any injury.)
- Braces require a little extra time to clean, especially after eating or drinking.
Pros for Invisalign aligners:
- Invisalign aligners are made of clear plastic. Because you aren’t dealing with wires or brackets, the chances of injuring your mouth are significantly smaller.
- You can remove your Invisalign aligners for any sporting events, team photos, etc. (although it’s not required). If you take your aligners out to play, be sure to replace them with a custom mouthguard and store your aligners in their case.
Cons for Invisalign aligners:
- Despite their appearance, Invisalign aligners are only designed to correct misaligned teeth and do not provide adequate protection against impact, so you’ll need to wear a custom mouthguard.
- Because Invisalign aligners are removable, there’s always a chance they will get lost. You can avoid this by keeping your Invisalign case for your aligners in your sports bag–and using it every time!
Protecting yourself during practice and game time
As mentioned above, wearing a mouthguard is key to successful orthodontic treatment for athletes. Whether you fit the mouthguard over your braces or wear it in place of your Invisalign aligners, consistently wearing a mouthguard helps protect your new smile in progress. Mouthguards also provide shock absorption to minimize any trauma.
You have many choices for mouthguards today, including generic pre-formed varieties and boil-and-bite options. For maximum protection and comfort, your Rapids orthodontist can create a custom mouthguard that is crafted to the unique shape of your teeth. You can even use your team colors! Check your team’s insurance policy, as some will only cover injuries sustained while wearing a dentist-created or orthodontist-created mouthguard.
We’re here for any orthodontic emergencies
Sports are unpredictable, and accidents do happen. If you require orthodontic emergency care, the Rapids Orthodontics team is here for you.
If you are injured, immediately check your mouth for loose teeth or any damage to your orthodontic appliance. If detected, contact our office to determine if emergency care is needed. You can temporarily relieve any discomfort by rinsing with warm salt water. Dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water can relieve discomfort and also promote healing. You can also apply wax or take over-the-counter pain relievers.
Use sports drinks sparingly
As athletes, sports drinks are supposed to replenish our electrolytes and give us energy. Unfortunately, high-sugar sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade create plaque once they mix with your saliva. Plaque is a sticky film that coats the teeth and is difficult to remove completely, even with brushing–and it’s also a main culprit in causing cavities.
Be sure to only drink sports drinks when you are playing sports. If you wear Invisalign aligners, you should avoid sugary drinks (including sports drinks) altogether. The liquid can get trapped against your teeth under the aligner, prolonging sugar exposure.
Better yet, replace all those empty calories with water! Gatorade G2, Propel, and Crystal Light On the Go Pure Fitness are some other low-sugar alternatives replenishing those electrolytes. For more details about orthodontic-friendly drinks and foods that can help athletes stay fueled, visit our orthodontic care and maintenance page.
Orthodontics for the win
You don’t have to choose between the sports you love and a healthy, confident smile! Contact Rapids Orthodontics for a free consultation to learn more about orthodontic treatment. Your free consultation will include one-on-one Q&A time with a doctor, digital X-rays, a 3-D model of your teeth and gums, and a personalized treatment plan–all in one convenient visit. No dentist referral is necessary, so make the play to meet our team today.