Many of our Zeifman Orthodontics patients are active in sports, either in their school or on community teams. One question that many athletes ask is how they’ll be able to continue playing sports while wearing braces, or if they’ll be on the sidelines. If you’re an athlete, you might also be worried about playing sports with braces and how they will affect your performance or even continue playing. 

This is a common concern, but not a common problem! You can play any sport you want during your orthodontic treatment. However, you need to take certain precautions to keep your braces (and mouth!) safe. At Zeifman 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

If you only do one thing to protect your braces while playing sports, it should be wearing a mouthguard. It’s the single best way to protect your teeth and appliance. 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. Even a small impact can cause small cuts or abrasion on your mouth and gums. Even the irritation a minor impact can cause is worth avoiding when it’s so easy to wear a mouthguard. 

We recommend that all patients who plan on playing sports while wearing braces consider investing in an orthodontic mouthguard. Regular mouthguards provide some protection and are better than nothing, but they can’t keep up with your teeth’ movement because they’re rigidly molded. Regular mouthguards molded out of thermoplastic can 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.

On the other hand, orthodontic mouthguards are made from silicone and provide a cushion between your lips and teeth that can absorb an impact. This will prevent damage while also preventing 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 your teeth’ movement during treatment and are affordably priced in both strapped and unstrapped styles.


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.


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. 

Injuries that can occur while playing sports in braces

Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, we want to examine your mouth after any impact 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. Zeifman will 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 Zeifman 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 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 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!