Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Here at Buttram Orthodontics, many of our patients are active in sports, whether it’s for their school, in their community, or just for fun. A common concern we hear is that beginning braces will keep them from participating in the sports they love. If you’re an athlete, you may have similar concerns about playing sports with braces, how they’ll affect your performance, or if they could even prevent you from playing at all. 

This is a common concern, but thankfully it’s one that is unfounded. When you start your braces treatment, you can continue playing any sport you want! However, you will need to take some extra precautions to keep your braces and mouth safe. Our main goal is to  protect your braces from damage and ensure you don’t injure your teeth or gums. To learn more about how you can protect your teeth and braces while playing sports, keep reading below!

Understanding Mouthguards

The single best way to protect your teeth while you’re in the game is by wearing a mouthguard. They do a great job of protecting your teeth, even when playing high-contact sports like football or hockey. The best part is, they’re extremely easy to use! We recommend our patients wear a mouthguard for low-impact sports, as well, since the smallest amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, or cause small cuts to your gums and cheeks. When you know the differences between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic one, you can make an informed decision on which one will better suit your needs. 

If you plan on playing sports during the course of your orthodontic treatment, the best investment you can make is an orthodontic mouthguard. While standard mouthguards do provide some protection, they aren’t designed specifically for braces patients. These mouthguards are made of a rigid material called thermoplastic, which heats up in your mouth and molds to fit your teeth. This doesn’t allow it to adjust as your teeth move, so it can actually end up working against your braces, and cause your treatment to be delayed. 

Not only that, but a standard mouthguard that has molded itself too snugly around your braces could shift them, or even knock the brackets off completely, if you take a hard enough hit. This could lead to additional orthodontic appointments and increased treatment time. 

Orthodontic mouthguards, on the other hand, are made from a high-grade silicone that provides extra cushion for your lips and prevents them from bumping against your teeth and braces. This protects your braces from any impact-related damage and can also prevent painful scenarios, such as your lip getting caught in your braces (it’s just as bad as it sounds!) Because they’re made of silicone, they’re more flexible, which helps prevent damage to your brackets. Orthodontic mouthguards are slightly larger than the standard design, but they’re just as comfortable! These over-the-counter options will give you all the protection you need, based on your lifestyle. 

Over-the-counter mouthguards

Shock Doctor

One of the most well-known brands, Shock Doctor mouthguards are considered to be some of the best orthodontics 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 many other 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 (especially high-contact 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 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.


SISU mouthguards are also a newer type of mouthguard.  They are very thin, making them less bulky. Thus can be a little more comfortable to some people if they do not like the bulk of the other types of mouthguards. They are made of a harder material, so sometimes they don’t provide quite as much cushion as other models. However, they can be reboiled to fit the teeth, so they are great for orthodontic patients as their teeth move.

Injuries from playing sports in braces

Even if you wear a mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re undergoing braces treatment and playing sports still needs attention. If this happens, get in touch with our office as soon as possible! We’re always available if you experience an orthodontic emergency. Once we know what happened, Dr. Buttram will be able to determine if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment or not. Remember, the best way to protect your braces and teeth is to always wear your mouthguard when playing sports! An orthodontic model is the best option, but even a standard design will help protect your braces and teeth from a hit that could otherwise lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth. 

Protect your game-changing smile with Buttram Orthodontics

When you’re in orthodontic treatment, a mouthguard is a crucial investment in your progress. They protect your teeth as they move into their new positions, while also protecting the straightening process itself! They provide excellent protection for your smile investment. We encourage all of our patients to wear any kind of mouthguard over none at all when playing sports or participating in other physical activities.

Whether you’re a current patient or are just getting started on your braces journey, we understand you may be nervous about the impact they’ll have on your ability to play the sport you love. We’re here to help set your mind at ease! The team at Buttram Orthodontics is always here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your treatment. With mouthguard protection and our top-notch staff on your side, you’ll have all the tools you need to keep your smile protected!