Kids playing football in full safety gear

Can Your Kid Play Football If He Has Braces?

If your child is an avid sports player, particularly football, they may be disappointed when they find out they need braces. They may have heard from fellow players that having a permanent mouth appliance isn't helpful when playing this sport. But that isn't necessarily true. As you prepare for your next professional dental appointment to discuss your child's braces, you probably have a few questions. How can my child still play football safely? Is there a special football mouthpiece for braces? Can he play and protect his braces at the same time? The answer is a resounding "yes!" as long as he wears a football mouthguard for braces.

Let's go over the important steps you can take to make sure you get the appropriate mouthguard for your child and how best to instruct them on cleaning and replacing it. There's no reason that orthodontic treatment should hinder your child's enjoyment of sports!

Talk to the Coach

When embarking into the world of orthodontic care for your child, the more communication, the better! We think it's helpful to find out if the league your child is playing in requires a custom fit mouthguard or only one that protects the upper and lower arch. It's time to know the different types of sports mouthguards available and which one your child is expected to wear. By understanding what your child's coach expects in terms of protective gear, you'll be better equipped for the next conversation you'll be having - one with your child's orthodontist.

Talk to the Orthodontist or Dentist

After you've determined what your child's team requires for football mouthguards for players with braces, consult their dentist or orthodontist for a professional recommendation. They will inform you of the best option for your child's smile, whether it's a custom-fit, "boil and bite," or stock mouthguard. If your child doesn't need a custom-fitted mouthpiece, they should be able to recommend off-the-shelf models that offer the best protection for your child's teeth and gums. You'll be able to buy these online or at a local sports retailer or pharmacy.

Cleanliness

As your child begins a regular season of practice and games, there's no doubt that their mouthguard, like the rest of their gear, will need to be cleaned. A mouthguard can easily become contaminated with germs and bacteria, which you'll want to regularly clean off to avoid illness. But this doesn't have to be a big chore for your child! We recommend instructing them to care for their mouthguard like they do their teeth, creating a regular care habit that becomes a natural part of their everyday routine.

All they have to do is brush a mouthguard with toothpaste or rinse it with an antimicrobial solution. These actions will greatly reduce the number of bacteria living on it, leaving their smile fresh and clean, both on and off the field!

Replacement

As you well know, football is not a low-contact sport. So it would be the correct assumption that mouthguards can become severely damaged in as little as a few months. This is especially the case when they're protecting a smile full of braces. As a good rule of thumb, don't allow your child to wear a mouthguard with cracks or rough edges. This can damage the soft tissue in their mouth, especially when they come into contact with someone (or something) while playing football.

It may even be a good idea to keep a back-up mouthguard on hand for a rough practice or game that damages your child's mouthguard beyond repair. Your child's dental professional can help you look for signs that a mouthguard needs replacement, too, so we recommend bringing it with you to their dental cleaning and orthodontic appointments!

Finding out your child needs a full set of braces doesn't mean they need to sit out this season! With proactive conversations with both their team coach and their orthodontist and teaching them how to keep it clean and look for signs it needs replacement, a mouthguard is an essential piece of equipment for keeping your kid in the game. Just like it's important to stretch, hydrate, and learn the safe way to tackle, it's just as essential your child learns how to take care of their teeth!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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