Choose a Mouthguard Designed Specifically for Braces
If you or your child wears braces, you know how expensive orthodontic work can be. The last thing you want is for those wires, brackets, and bands to get damaged during sports play. That’s why choosing a mouthguard designed specifically for braces is crucial.
The mouthguards from Shock Doctor and Ultra Braces are two excellent options tailored for brace wearers. These guards fully encapsulate your brackets, keeping them safe from hard hits and flying elbows. Unlike generic boil-and-bite guards, they feature special brace-friendly designs:
- Extended covering for brackets and wires
- Comfort-fit around orthodontic appliances
- Space to accommodate rubber bands
- Protection of lips and cheeks
Shock Doctor’s Ultra Braces Strapless Mouthguard provides a snug fit with its unique impressions around brackets. It comes in two styles – one for upper and one for lower teeth. For total protection, use both together to shield top and bottom braces from damage.
Meanwhile, Ultra Guard’s All Sport Mouthguard Braces Version seals out debris around brackets thanks to its fusiform shape. Its durable, dual-layer construction absorbs shock while the smooth edges prevent chafing. Ultra Guard offers a strap version as well to prevent the guard from dislodging.
Both brands also have options for younger athletes with braces, providing smaller sizes and child-friendly designs. The slim profile is less bulky and allows for easy breathing, drinking, and talking during play. Kids tend to adjust to these guards quickly.
Beyond braces-specific types, look for mouthguards that fully cover the gums, cushion blows, and stay securely in place. Soft materials like silicone and thermoplastic rubber are more flexible and less inhibiting. Focus on the quality of protection first before aesthetics.
Inspect the guard’s thickness and objectives. Does it have shock-absorbing layers? Extended lip and cheek coverage? Enough room for rubber band adjustments? The guard shouldn’t press down and irritate brace hardware. It should only act as a protective barrier.
Everyone’s mouth anatomy is unique, so find the best match for your braces and hardware configuration. With the right mouthguard for braces, you can rest easy knowing those costly orthodontics are safeguarded during recreational play and competitive games.
Look for Customizable Boil-and-Bite or Custom Fitted Guards
Finding the perfect mouthguard for your braces begins with getting the right fit. For maximum protection and comfort, you’ll want a guard that molds specifically to your mouth, braces, and teeth alignment.
Custom-fitted guards made professionally by your dentist provide the best tailored option. Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth, then sends it to a lab that creates a one-of-a-kind guard made just for you. This customization allows for excellent shock absorption and enables you to talk, breathe, and drink easily while wearing it.
The downside is custom guards can be pretty expensive, sometimes costing over $100. They also take time to produce and you’ll have to schedule an appointment to get the molding done.
For a more affordable and convenient alternative, go for a high-quality boil-and-bite mouthguard that you can customize at home. Brands like Shock Doctor and Under Armour offer boil-and-bite options designed specifically for braces.
Here’s how to fit a boil-and-bite guard:
- Immerse the mouthguard in hot water to soften the material
- Test the temp before inserting it carefully into your mouth over the braces
- Bite down firmly, pressing it into all the contours of your teeth and hardware
- Suck out air and water while biting to mold the material to your mouth
- Cool briefly with cold water, then repeat the fitting process for a second molding
Take your time with the process, applying even biting pressure throughout to get the customized fit. The guard material should seamlessly encapsulate all your brackets, bands, wires, and rubber bands.
Reboil and refit the guard if needed until you have an accurate impression. Be sure to trim any excess length or material with scissors after molding so it doesn’t impede your speech or breathing.
Test it out by wearing the finished guard around the house. Make any minor adjustments needed for perfect comfort and protection. Now it’s ready to reliably shield your braces from harm on the field or court.
Compared to custom guards from your dentist, boil-and-bite models are affordable at around $15-$25 on average. You also avoid office visits and get to personally handle the fitting. Just be sure to carefully follow all molding directions for best results.
With the precision of a custom fit, a boil-and-bite mouthguard will keep braces out of harm’s way. Take the time to get the sizing and shape just right. A properly fitted guard equals confident play without worrying about brace damage or injury.
Select a Dual-Layer Mouthguard for Maximum Shock Absorption
When playing sports with braces, the name of the game is protection. All that hardware in your mouth is vulnerable to impact, so you need a mouthguard that provides top-notch shock absorption.
Look for guards constructed with two layers or more of durable material. Multiple layers cushion blows much better than single-layer options. They help prevent brackets being driven into your lips or gums when taking a hit.
Shock Doctor and SISU produce excellent multi-layer mouthguards designed for braces. Most feature a harder outer layer that diffuses initial impact, along with a softer inner layer to block vibration.
Here are some key dual-layer guard benefits:
- Outer layer flexes to absorb impact force
- Inner layer acts as a cushion to block vibration
- Prevents brackets from painfully jabbing inside of mouth
- Reduces risk of cuts, lacerations, and damage
- Minimizes shock transferred to head, brain, and jaw
Look at the material itself too. Softer ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and silicone rubber will compress better under impact. Thermoplastics like polycarbonate and polyurethane are extremely durable yet with some give.
Proper thickness also amplifies the shock-dampening effect. Guards that are 3-5mm thick optimize protection and absorbency. Any thinner and their cushioning ability declines.
When molding your boil-and-bite guard, focus on getting material pressed securely around the labial and lingual sides of brackets. This provides a protective bubble on both sides of your teeth.
With dual-layer types, mold the layers together as one unit. This fuses them into integrated shock absorbers. Test the fit by pushing on your brackets through the guard – it should flex and rebound instantly.
Don’t forget your lower jaws during molding too. An upper/lower combo offers full protection for top and bottom braces. Anchor straps also prevent the guards from slipping and exposing brackets.
Proper mouthguard care preserves the layers’ cushioning capacity over time. Keep your guard clean, replace it once worn, and store in a protective case when not in use.
With billowy dual layers to cushion blows, your braces and smile will stay intact through even the rowdiest of games. Multi-layer mouthguards are a brace wearer’s best defense against injury.
Make Sure the Material is BPA and Latex-Free
When it comes to mouthguard materials, focus on quality over cost. With braces in your mouth, you’ll want to avoid cheap guards made with questionable ingredients.
Look for high-grade guards made from BPA and latex-free materials. Many cheaper versions produced overseas contain these and other potentially hazardous chemicals that can leach out over time.
BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical found in some plastics and resins. Prolonged exposure can pose health risks, especially for children. The FDA bans BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula packaging.
Latex allergies are also common, causing reactions like redness, swelling, and breathing issues. People with braces tend to be more susceptible as latex can stick to brackets and bands.
When molding a boil-and-bite guard, it softens and expands, increasing chances of chemical leeching. These then mix with saliva and are ingested or absorbed by mouth tissues.
To stay safe, inspect the packaging for “BPA-free” and “latex-free” markings. Reputable brands like Shock Doctor clearly state this. Call the manufacturer if you can’t find material details.
Higher-grade construction also means better durability and performance. Guards like SISU NextGen are crystal-clear and extra rigid, even after molding. Cloudy or discolored material signal weaker quality.
In terms of materials, look for:
- Medical/dental-grade thermoplastic resin
- Silicone – extra soft and flexible
- Thermoplastic rubber – excellent shock absorption
- EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) – cushions blows
Proprietary mixes like Shock Doctor’s Exoskeletal Shock Frame Technology provide both rigidity and flexibility for top-notch protection.
Avoid PVC, phthalates, and other plasticizers. While cheaper, they’re less durable and pose health risks. Don’t assume bright colors equal safer either.
With braces, you want a mouthguard that helps alignment, not hinder it. Inferior materials made with harsh chemicals can irritate and inflame gums. They also tend to degrade faster with use.
While costing a bit more, BPA/latex-free guards are an investment in both safety and performance. Your mouth will thank you later as those braces start working their magic!
Find One with Breathing Holes if You Have Trouble Breathing
Wearing a mouthguard with braces can make breathing more challenging. The natural reaction is to grab more air through your mouth. But with a guard in place, this causes hyperventilation and difficulty catching your breath.
If you experience breathing issues or a gag reflex with standard mouthguards, look for ones with special air holes or vents. These strategic openings allow air to flow in through the guard unobstructed.
Shock Doctor mouthguards use the Power Wedge Lip Protection design. It incorporates a breathing channel along the front that maintains airflow and enables easy inhaling and exhaling.
Other options like Battle Oxygen mouthguards have an open-face style leaving your lips and breathing uncovered. Or you can find custom models with built-in respiration channels from your dentist.
When molding your boil-and-bite guard at home, also consider making small holes or slits in key areas:
- Across the front where your lips meet
- At the sides along your mouth opening
- Near the bottom away from your tongue
Use a drill or scissors to carefully create vents about the diameter of a straw. Be sure to smooth any rough edges. Space additional holes evenly for full airflow.
When placing the guard in your mouth, align the holes with your nostrils and the corners of your lips. This enables natural breathing channels.
Pro tip: Suck in air while the guard is remolding to prevent holes from flattening shut. Bite down firmly after holes are formed to set their shape.
Also avoid over-trimming when fitting your guard. The tighter it sits against your palate, the harder breathing becomes. Leave a little extra material if needed.
Train with the perforated guard at home first. Adjust vent size and placement as required. Over time, your breathing should adapt, becoming free-flowing and unrestricted.
With strategic vent holes, air can flow freely to avoid hyperventilation. For athletes with braces who struggle to breathe using a standard guard, holes provide sweet oxygen relief.
Get a Strap for Your Helmet So You Don’t Drop Your Mouthguard
One hassle braces athletes run into is constantly having to re-insert a dislodged mouthguard. All that running around leads to the guard slipping out mid-play if you’re not careful.
A simple but effective solution is getting a no-drop lip strap or keeper for your helmet. This secures the mouthguard in place, preventing it from popping out.
Shock Doctor’s Mouthguard Keeper Straps attach easily to face masks or helmets with Velcro tabs. You loop the tether strap through the guard’s finger loops or around its exterior.
When wearing the keeper, take care not to open your mouth too wide when speaking or yelling. This can still dislodge the guard. Keep jaw motions minimal.
Also mold your boil-and-bite guard leaving a little extra material around the front and sides. This allows you to firmly bite down to anchor it in place. Excess bulkiness makes removal tougher.
If playing a sport like basketball without a helmet, you can explore custom fitted guards. Some are designed like retainers and strap around back molars to stay put.
Here are some other tips to stop guard ejection:
- Incorporate tether attachment points during molding
- Re-fit if it becomes loose over time
- Avoid trimming away too much material
- Use guards contoured specifically for your sport
Also teach kids the importance of keeping their guard inserted at all times during play. Inspect for a snug fit before games. Fix slippage right away.
A properly fitted mouthguard that stays in position does its job better. With a retaining system, athletes can play with confidence knowing protection is always in place.
So strap on that keeper and dominate the game. Never let a rogue mouthguard come between you and victory again!
Clean Your Mouthguard Regularly with Toothpaste and Mouthwash
With all that mouthguard gnashing during games, keeping your guard clean is a must for braces wearers. Food debris, saliva, and bacteria quickly build up on the surface and in its nooks and crannies.
Get into a solid cleaning routine after every use. This prevents germ and odor buildup that can impact performance and be unhealthy for your braces.
Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and antibacterial toothpaste to gently scrub away plaque and dirt. Toothpaste contains abrasives that cut through and dislodge gunk the guard absorbs.
Pay extra attention to the rougher biting and contact surfaces where germs accumulate most. Get into crevices with a toothpick if needed to excavate trapped debris.
Next, soak the guard for 5-10 minutes in antibacterial mouthwash. Swoosh it around for full disinfection. The alcohol in mouthwash kills harmful bacteria missed by brushing.
Baking soda baths also freshen and deodorize well. Dissolve a tablespoon of baking soda into water and soak the guard for a few minutes.
For heavy-duty cleaning, use denture, retainer, or mouthguard cleansing tablets. These fizzing solutions foam away stubborn buildup. Pop your guard into the bubbles for a deep clean.
Always rinse thoroughly before wearing again so no toothpaste or cleaning agents remain. Air dry or pat gently with a clean towel – don’t wring or deform the shape.
Pro tip: Always transport your clean mouthguard in a protective case. Never shove it into a dirty gym bag to fester.
Consistent cleaning removes bacteria that corrodes guard materials and irritates your gums. A clean, fresh guard feels more comfortable in your mouth and performs better too.
Replace It Every Season or When It Loses Shape
Mouthguards take a beating each season, absorbing tons of impacts while protecting your braces. This continual shock and stress can degrade materials over time.
Plan to get a fresh guard every season, or more often if you play year-round. Don’t wait for it to completely fall apart – a worn-out guard provides compromised protection.
Look out for these signs your mouthguard needs replacing:
- Chipped, torn, or cracked sections
- Permanent indentations or lost shape
- Thinned-out, mushy, or compressed areas
- Loose, degraded fit around braces
- Yellowed, stained, or cloudy appearance
Shock Doctor mouthguards come with indicator beads that turn from blue to clear when it’s time to replace. About 3-6 months of use is the average lifespan before performance declines.
Old, flattened guards don’t absorb shock nearly as well. It also redistributes force in unhealthy ways. This leads to soreness and increases injury risk over time.
Re-molding helps extend lifespan temporarily, but the materials break down regardless. No amount of scrubbing restores lost function either once worn.
New boil-and-bite guards only run about $10-15 bucks. So bite the bullet and invest in a fresh one each season or year. Your braces and body will thank you.
Don’t pass down an old, beat-up guard to teammates or siblings either. Used guards should get tossed – they likely won’t fit or perform as needed.
While mouthguard replacement seems wasteful, it guarantees you get the protection you pay for. So stay safe and swap in a new guard when your old trusty finally calls it quits.
Talk to Your Orthodontist Before Playing Contact Sports
If your child wears braces, it’s wise to consult their orthodontist before playing contact sports like football, wrestling, or hockey. These sports with collisions and blunt impacts pose higher risks of damaging expensive orthodontic hardware.
Schedule a quick pre-season check-up and cleaning. Bring up participation in school sports or recreational leagues. The orthodontist can then advise on proper mouthguard use and precautions.
Key things to discuss include:
- Condition of current braces and bands
- Special padding or adjustments needed
- Preferred mouthguard type and fit
- Oral hygiene before/after play
- Diet and food limitations with braces
The orthodontist may recommend a custom-fitted guard for total protection. Impressions can be taken right there in-office vs. boil-and-bite.
For headgear-wearers, ask about specialized strapped guards that accommodate wires and prevent displacement. Neck and face guards are also available.
Knowing your child’s sport-specific risks helps customize mouthguard precautions too. The orthodontist can point out vulnerable areas needing extra reinforcement.
If braces must be repaired or removed due to damage during the season, consult on how it affects overall alignment progress. Extra treatment may be required down the road.
Never try shortcuts either like playing without a mouthguard to avoid “nerdy” braces teasing. Any damage or injury costs far outweigh social stigma.
Speaking with the orthodontist beforehand minimizes sports risks and brace repairs. Get a game plan to confidently leap into competition – braces and guard ready for action!
Wear Your Mouthguard for All Practices and Games
The best mouthguard does no good resting on the sidelines. To properly protect braces, athletes need to keep their guard inserted for all contact – both practices and games.
Never assume light drills or scrimmages are safe for brace exposure. Even non-contact training carries risk, like deflected soccer balls or flailing hockey sticks.
Train your jaw muscles and breathing to adapt to the guard during lower intensity practices first. This builds comfort and confidence handling it when competitive intensity ramps up.
Coaches should mandate guards for all players during sessions where drill contact occurs. Lead by example and wear one yourself even during demonstrations.
Some additional tips for making mouthguard use a consistent habit:
- Check fitment before start of every practice/game
- Assign partner responsibility checks on the bench
- Set visual reminders like colored wrist tape
- Keep guards easily accessible, not buried in bags
- Implement rules allowing quick mouthguard replacement during play
There should be no “mask dangling” or under-nose equivalent with mouthguards either. Full, properly-fitted use prevents injury and instills discipline.
Kids will complain of discomfort at first. But staying firm on full-time wear results in long-term safety and conformity benefits.
Successful teams foster a culture of collective protection. So guard those grills all season long and achieve victory with smiles intact!
Train with the Guard so it Feels Natural
A mouthguard only protects braces if it’s worn consistently. But keeping it inserted feels unnatural at first, affecting speech and breathing.
Practicing regularly with the guard is key to making it feel like a normal extension of yourself. The more you exercise with it in, the quicker your mouth acclimates.
Start by wearing the guard at home while doing everyday activities – watching TV, reading, gaming, etc. Talk out loud, sing, and move your mouth around.
Next, amp up your at-home training:
- Go through sport-specific motions and drills
- Do cardio like jogging, biking, or jumping jacks
- Perform strength training and bursts of exertion
- Focus on proper breathing techniques
This builds your stamina managing the guard during real game intensities. You’ll adjust to controlling breathing and avoiding hyperventilation.
Pay attention to enunciation and projection when speaking loudly with it inserted too. Over-articulate words and open your mouth wider to counter muffling.
Consider recording yourself talking normally vs. with the guard. Compare how clearly you communicate. Aim to achieve equal speech intelligibility.
Don’t obsess over slight lisping either. Comfort and protection outweigh perfect diction. Enunciation improves over time.
Stick with the regimen and the guard will start feeling like a natural part of your game day kit. Frequent practice delivers confidence, responsiveness, and results.
Resist the Urge to Chew on Your Mouthguard
It’s tempting for braces wearers to anxiously chew and gnaw on their mouthguard during competition. But this habitual chewing can damage both your guard and orthodontic hardware.
The relentless chomping can flatten and distort the guard’s shape. This compromises the protective shock-absorbing layers and custom molding.
Constant chewing also stresses and strains your jaw joints. This can worsen braces pain and cause dental alignment issues.
Here are some tips to curb your mouthguard chewing:
- Identify trigger moments that spark chomping
- Focus on measured breathing instead of chewing
- Chew gum briefly before inserting guard
- Soothe adjusting braces with orthodontic wax
- Talk to your coach if it’s stress-related
If you catch yourself mindlessly biting down, consciously relax your jaw. Don’t clamp and crush the guard like a pacifier.
You can try guards with protective outer cases that shield the core from damage. Shock Doctor’s SISU guards have a hard outer shield.
Just be sure to replace the guard once flattened or compromised. Don’t keep chewing away on a warped hand-me-down.
Chewing also attracts excess dirt and bacteria into the guard’s pores. So increase cleaning to combat heightened wear.
Saving your pearly whites requires breaking the destructive chewing habit. Stay mindful and protect those braces with care, not chompers!
Encourage Your Teammates to Wear One Too
If you’re an athlete wearing braces, encourage your teammates to use mouthguards too. After all, protection is a team effort.
Peer influence goes a long way, especially if guards aren’t mandated. Set an example by wearing your brace guard consistently during practice and explaining why it matters. Your teammates will see firsthand how it doesn’t hinder performance.
Point out famous pro athletes who use guards to avoid dental injury and concussions. NHL hockey, NFL football, and action sports like motocross require mouth protection by regulation.
Emphasize how guards shield brackets and teeth from accidents like deflected shots, tumbles, and collisions. No one’s immune from flukes.
For self-conscious teammates, suggest clear guards or ones color-matched to uniforms. This looks slick while also proving you can still communicate and breathe fine.
If parents or coaches need convincing, share dentist recommendations and orthodontist warnings. Authoritative sources validate the need for broad guard use.
And remind everyone – a little temporary discomfort far outweighs the trauma and cost of knocked-out teeth or busted braces!
Beyond protecting teeth, guards cushion blows to the jaw that can cause concussions if absorbed directly. So they provide two-fold safety.
At the end of the day, it comes down to having your teammates’ backs. Set the tone and advocate for mouthguard use together.
After all, no one wins championships or has fun sidelined with damaged braces. Just do it for the team!
Put Your Health Over Looks
Let’s face it, mouthguards are far from the height of fashion. But when you’ve got a mouth full of braces, protecting your orthodontic investment should take priority over looks.
The cost of damaged braces or dental injury from sports impact far outweighs any temporary social embarrassment. We’re talking thousands vs hurt pride.
Plus today’s guard designs are far less bulky and “nerdy” than the mouth bricks of the past. Flexible materials provide function without sacrificing style.
Clear thermoplastic guards blend discretely with your smile. Or go for bold colors and patterns matched to team uniforms.
If the lisping bothers you, use the guard religiously in practice first. You’ll adapt and get compliments on clear speech in no time.
You can also opt for “invisible” orthodontic aligners, but these provide zero impact protection. Don’t rely on just aligners or you’ll regret it.
Today’s athletes increasingly understand the importance of full-time guard use for safety. Following protocol shows self-respect, not weakness.
And few things look worse than knocked-out teeth and bloodied gums! Take it from someone who learned the hard way…
So suit up with confidence. A custom fitted guard means precision protection and peace of mind. You’ll forget it’s even there.
Ditch the vanity and guard your teeth. Protecting the braces and smile you’ve invested in is the best look around.