Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Here at Cowan Orthodontics, we have quite a few patients who are active in sports. Whether they play for their school or in their community, one question that’s always on their mind when they begin treatment is if braces will keep them on the sideline for the season. If you’re an athlete, you might also be worried about playing sports with braces and how they will affect your performance, or if you can even continue to play. 

While this is a very common concern, thankfully it is an unfounded one! You can continue playing any sport you like while undergoing orthodontic treatment! However, you do need to take certain precautions to keep your braces (and mouth!) safe. At Cowan Orthodontics, we’re focused on making sure your smile is always protected. We don’t want you to damage your braces, and we especially want to prevent you from injuring your teeth or gums! To learn more about how you can protect your braces and your mouth while playing sports, keep reading below. 

Wearing a mouthguard

When it comes to protecting your teeth when you’re in the game, mouthguards are the single best way to do so. They’re easy to use and proven to be highly effective, even when participating in high-contact sports like football and hockey. We also recommend wearing them for low-impact sports, since even a small amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, causing small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

If you play sports while wearing braces, you may want to think about investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. While regular mouthguards will provide some protection, they are generally made of thermoplastic, which heats up in your mouth and molds to your teeth. This kind of mouthguard doesn’t have the ability to evolve with your teeth as they shift, which can actually end up working against your braces. This may interrupt the straightening process. 

Not only that, but a regular mouthguard that has molded itself too snugly around the brackets could shift them or even knock the brackets off completely if you sustained a hard enough hit. This could result in extra orthodontic visits, or an increase in the total treatment time.

In contrast, orthodontic mouthguards are made from high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces. This helps protect the brackets from any impact-related damage, and can also prevent painful scenarios like your lip getting caught in your braces (it’s exactly as bad as it sounds!) The silicone material provides more flexibility, preventing damage to your braces. Orthodontic mouthguards can be slightly larger than regular mouthguards, but they are just as comfortable.

Once you know the differences between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you’ll be able to make the best decision for you based on what you need it for. These over-the-counter options provide effective protection for you and will be able to meet all your basic needs. 

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Over-the-counter mouthguards

Shock Doctor

Shock Doctor is a well-known brand and commonly considered to produce some of the best  orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Because they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they’re more comfortable than most options, and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and are affordably priced in both strapped and unstrapped styles.


If you’re in braces and regularly play sports, mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but still allow you to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they’re still an inexpensive, lightweight option. However, keep in mind they have a more generalized design and aren’t made specifically for athletes in braces. 


Tapout mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a distinct design promoting airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they will re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. Because they are meant to adjust based on your current bite, athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment can use them, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.

Injuries that can occur while playing sports in braces

Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re in braces should be attended to. If this happens to you, we recommend getting in touch with our office as soon as possible. We’re always available if you have an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s going on with you and your braces, Dr. Cowan will be able to determine if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment.. 

Remember, the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by always wearing a mouthguard! An orthodontic model is the best option, but even a basic mouthguard will help prevent hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth.

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Protect your perfect smile with Cowan Orthodontics

Mouthguards are an excellent investment in your oral health, shielding your teeth while they move into their new permanent positions. They also protect the straightening process itself! We encourage all of our patients to wear any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports or other physical activity.

Whether you’re a current patient or have an appointment to get your braces on soon, we understand being nervous about the impact they’ll have on your ability to play sports. We’d be happy to set your mind at ease! Our team is always here to answer any questions you may have, or to talk through any concerns you have about the treatment process. With mouthguard protection and our skilled staff behind you, you’ll have everything you need to keep your smile looking and feeling great!

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