April is National Facial Protection Month. The message is clear: play it safe when getting outside this spring and avoid sports injuries by wearing protective equipment. Since an injury to the face could damage orthodontic brackets or other fixed appliances, a properly fitted mouth guard is particularly important for our patients. Dr. Roos has some answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding facial protection and braces.

Q: Can I Wear a Mouth Guard if I Wear Braces?

A: Yes – facial protection is key when undergoing orthodontic treatment to protect your appliances and your vulnerable teeth. Please ask your Treatment Manager about fitting a custom mouth guard to work with your specific and unique braces. A properly fitted mouth protector will stay in place while you are wearing it, making it easy for you to talk and breathe.

Q: Do I need a mouth guard?
Accidents can happen during any physical activity. Everybody who participates in a sport that carries a significant risk of injury should wear a mouth protector. A misdirected elbow in a one-on-one basketball game or a fall off a skateboard can leave you with chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss. Mouth guards, which typically cover the upper teeth, can cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth.

Q: Are there different types of mouth guards?
There are two basic types of mouth guards available: (1) A custom fitted mouth guard available from a dentist or orthodontist, constructed directly from a mold taken of your teeth and fitting tightly and comfortably over your teeth and braces. This type of mouth guard is recommended by the dental and orthodontic professions and is the most effective in preventing injuries to the teeth and jaws. (2) The generic DIY mouth guard, available at many pharmacies and sports stores. While not as tight fitting, wearing one of these is preferable to no facial protection at all.

Q: How do I care for my mouth guard?
After use, mouth guards should be rinsed in cold, soapy water. They can be disinfected occasionally with a mild disinfectant solution or mouth rinse. Like a retainer, a mouth guard should be stored clean and dry in a plastic container, and like a retainer, they can distort under higher temperatures, so don’t leave them in your sports bag in the back of a hot car on a sunny day!

Enjoy the great outdoors and remember to wear facial protection gear for all tooth-threatening activities – not just during April, National Facial Protection Month, but all year round! Teeth do their best work when they’re snug in your mouth!