Before or after orthodontics - protect that smile!
At Swords Orthodontics, we love it when a patient gets their braces off. We call it Debond Day. So, after many months of careful brushing, watching what you eat, and trips to see your orthodontist, you have finally had your braces taken off and you're delighted with the result! And why not - you worked hard to make it happen. But it's important to keep things this way after all the work. The first thing to do is to wear your retainer as the orthodontist tells you to - you'll see lots of articles about retainers on our blog. But there's another important thing to do to keep the smile in top condition, and you don't even need to have worn braces to benefit from this, and that's to:
WEAR A MOUTH GUARD WHEN YOU PLAY CONTACT SPORTS!
The lips are nature's mouth guard. That's why one of the main orthodontic problems that has a bearing on dental health is teeth sticking out too far (a big overjet). In fact, if they stick out beyond a certain amount the government will treat the teeth for free (but there might be a bit of a waiting list). But even the lips aren't enough some times - after all, when you're working hard at your sport you're breathing hard and that means breathing through your mouth so your mouth has to be open.
When you're at rest, it's easy to breathe through your nose with your mouth closed, when you're running backwards and forwards that's not an option, you have to have the mourh open, and that means your teeth are vulnerable to impact.
The GAA recently made mouthguards/gumshields compusory for players under 18, and the Irish Dental Association welcomed the decision as a major step in dental public health. Swords Orthodontics can even make these in team colours!
Don't think that wearing a helmet means you don't need mouth protection
I get this sometimes from my orthodontic patients "I don't wear a mouthguard because I have to wear a helmet". There was a photo on the cover of the Irish Independent a few months ago of two men at the end of a high stakes hurling match, with helmets, and one of them had an obvious mouth injury, with the headline even mentionin the blood.
The potential for injury is there, the stakes are high:
- the initial injury can be very painful
- the initial injury can be very distressing to look at
- it can be distressing and complicated to deal with in the immediate stages
- it can be a very long and complicated and expensive process to deal with long term
- the long term results for a severe dental/mouth injury can be difficult to deal with
Most of these can be avoided or minimised by wearing a mouthguard, a relatively cheap piece of plastic that covers the teeth even when the lips don't. And to an extent the mouthguard protects the lips too, as they are often cut on the teeth in an impact.
There has been research into this and again and again the results agree that the best guard is one that is individually made to fit the patient - not least because a comfortable, well fitting mouth guard is more likely to be worn and more likely to be in place at the time of an injury.
So if you play sport, get yourself sorted for a mouthguard today!