Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Here at Central Virginia Orthodontics, many of our patients are active in sports. Whether they play for their school or in their community, many are worried about how their braces treatment will affect their ability to play or even leave them on the sidelines. If you’re an athlete, you may have similar concerns about playing sports while wearing braces. 

This is a very common concern, but we have good news! There’s no need to worry about putting your sports career on hold for your braces treatment. You can continue playing any sport you like, as long as you take a few extra precautions. Our goal is to protect your braces from getting damage and keeping your teeth and gums safe from any injuries. To find out more about how you can protect your braces and your mouth while still playing the sports you love, keep reading below! 

Wearing a mouthguard

Mouthguards are the absolute best way to protect your smile while you’re playing sports. They’re easy to use and provide great protection, even when playing high-contact sports like football and hockey. We recommend you wear them for low-impact sports, too, since even the smallest amount of contact on your braces can cause irritation in your mouth, or even small cuts and abrasions to your gums and cheeks. 

If you plan on being involved in sports during the course of your braces treatment, an orthodontic mouthguard is the best investment you can make! While standard mouthguards do provide some protection, they’re made of a material called thermoplastic that will mold to your teeth when it gets warm. This can be dangerous for your braces, as the brackets can get stuck in the molded mouthguard, causing damage that requires an additional orthodontic appointment. This rigid design also can’t adjust well as your teeth move during treatment, so it can actually end up working against your braces, increasing the length of time you have to wear them.  

In contrast, orthodontic mouthguards are designed with your braces in mind. They’re made from a high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and prevents them from bumping against your braces. This helps protect the brackets from any impact-related damage, as well as prevent painful scenarios such as your lip getting caught in your braces (it’s exactly as bad as it sounds!) Orthodontic mouthguards can be slightly bulkier in order to fit over your braces, but they’re just as comfortable, and provide an extra layer of protection for your smile!

Once you know the difference between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you’ll be able to decide what will be the best fit for your lifestyle and protective needs. These over-the-counter options provide effective protection for your teeth and braces and will meet all of your basic needs. 

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Over-the-counter mouthguards

Shock Doctor

One of the most popular brands, Shock Doctor mouthguards are considered some of the best orthodontic mouthguards on the market. Since they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they’re very comfortable and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards are able to 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 built-in are a huge plus! Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but do not hinder your ability 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 that they aren’t made specifically for athletes in braces and have a more generalized design. 


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 can re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. Because they’re meant to adjust based on your current bite, athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment can use them, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.

Injuries from playing sports in braces

A direct hit to your mouth is something that needs to be checked out as soon as possible, even if you’re wearing a mouthguard. If this happens, contact our office right away! We’re always available if you have an orthodontic emergency. Once we know what happened, Dr. Baugher or Dr. Claiborne will be able to determine if we need to set up an emergency appointment. Remember, the best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by always wearing your mouthguard! An orthodontic model is preferable, but even a standard mouthguard is better than none at all. 

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Protect your smile with Central Virginia Orthodontics

If you plan on participating in sports during your orthodontic treatment, a mouthguard is the best investment you can make! They’ll protect your teeth while you play, shielding them as they move into their new positions. They also protect the straightening process itself! We encourage all of our patients to wear some kind of mouthguard over none at all when playing sports or participating in other physical activities.

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