Given the close-quarters contact that comes with wrestling, it makes sense that you might have some questions about wrestling while wearing braces.
For example, there’s potential for you or your opponent to get scraped by the sharp metal, and at first thought, it seems like it could be unsafe. But can you wrestle while wearing braces?
Can You Do Wrestling With Braces?
You can do wrestling with braces provided you wear a mouthguard to protect yourself and your opponent. The mouthguard must cover your braces fully, and it should be comfortable to wear while being active. If you plan to compete, consider investing in a custom mouthguard for the best fit.
Your mouthguard is just as crucial for your safety as your headgear, knee pads, and athletic support, and as long as you consult your orthodontist and find a mouthguard that’s right for you, it is perfectly safe to wrestle with braces. To learn more, however, keep reading.
Guidelines for Wrestling With Braces
The guidelines for wrestling with braces, per the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), requires wrestlers to wear a mouthguard for protection.
Wrestlers with braces on their top teeth do not need a guard on their bottom teeth, and vice versa.
A mouthguard has three goals:
- Protect the inside of your mouth from the sharp wires and brackets.
- Keep your braces from getting damaged.
- Prevent your opponent from getting cut.
Best Mouthguards for Braces
The best mouthguards for braces are specifically made for people with braces as a normal guard does not account for the added material on your teeth. Stock guards are affordable and will work well, but mouth-formed and custom guards are better if the wearer plans to compete.
There are three main types of braces mouthguards you can use for wrestling:
- Stock mouthguards are very basic and designed to fit universally.
- Mouth-formed (or boiled) are an affordable alternative to custom guards that can be molded to your own teeth.
- Custom mouthguards need to be professionally molded and made for your specific needs and will be the most expensive option.
The right mouthguard for you will depend on your situation, how much you intend to use it, and how much you’re willing to spend.
Stock mouthguards are pieces of silicone that fit over your braces without being tailored to fit your mouth shape. They are affordable and readily available at most sporting goods stores.
You can also find stock mouthguards on Amazon. The Shock Doctor Double Braces Mouth Guard covers the upper and lower braces and comes in many sizes.
However, if you only have upper braces, consider the NXTRND Braces Mouth Guard (also from Amazon) to protect your upper teeth. There’s no need to guard your lower teeth if you don’t have braces on them.
It may take some trial-and-error to find a stock mouthguard that fits your mouth size comfortably. Fortunately, they are the most affordable, so it shouldn’t be a financial strain if you have to buy more than one.
Boiled / Mouth-Formed Mouthguards
Mouth-formed mouthguards, sometimes known as boiled mouthguards, are similar to stock mouthguards in that you buy them from the store, but they are molded to fit your braces.
Place the mouthguard in boiling water for as long as the instructions indicate (usually about 15-30 seconds) to soften the material. Then remove the mouthguard from the water and bite into it.
The gel-like material should form around your braces and teeth.
A boiled mouthguard will probably fit your mouth better than a stock mouthguard, but it might not last the entire wrestling season. T
hey are only moderately expensive, depending on the brand. If you only have braces for one season of your wrestling career, boiled mouthguards could be a great fit for you.
SAFEJAWZ Mouthguard for Braces from Amazon can be heated and reshaped to your teeth multiple times, which is helpful as your teeth move into the proper position thanks to your braces.
A custom mouthguard is the most expensive and time-consuming to make as they are made by your dentist or orthodontist and professionally molded to fit your mouth and braces.
This process will require at least one, if not several, trips to the orthodontist.
However, when your custom mouthguard is done, it will be more comfortable than a stock mouthguard because it is designed for your unique mouth shape.
Ask your orthodontist about how long a custom mouthguard would take and how expensive it would be.
A custom mouthguard is probably worth the investment if you know you’re going to be wrestling while wearing braces for a long time. You should also consider one if you can’t find any stock or boiled mouthguards that fit comfortably.
How to Protect Your Mouthguard
If you bought the mouth-formed or custom mouthguard, you’ll want to care for it to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Here’s how to protect your mouthguard:
- Store it in a container when not in use to prevent damage.
- Go to your dentist if it breaks and replace it right away.
- Remember to regularly clean your mouthguard.
To clean your mouthguard, brush it with toothpaste before and after every practice and match, so it doesn’t grow bacteria. Brushing also helps it taste fresh and less like silicone or plastic.
If regularly brushing your mouthguard isn’t enough to keep it feeling fresh and clean, try soaking it in water with a cleanser designed for dental care. Breelex Retainer Cleaner from Amazon comes in tablet form and is useful for cleaning mouthguards, retainers, and dentures.
What To Do if Your Braces Cut You
Even with a mouthguard, injuries can still happen. Cuts caused by braces may take a while to heal because the bracket is fixed in place and may continue to irritate your laceration.
If your braces cut the inside of your mouth while wrestling, rinse out your mouth and use dental wax to cover the bracket that is causing the issue. If the problem persists, visit your dentist to have your braces adjusted.
Your orthodontist will almost certainly provide you with wax when you first get your braces, and it’s very inexpensive to restock your supply.
This GUM Orthodontic Wax includes aloe vera to soothe your mouth, and it’s already cut into small pieces for your convenience.
Throw away old wax and replace it with fresh wax as needed until the cut has healed.
You can also treat your pain with over-the-counter medicines if you need to, and you might want to eat soft foods for a day or two. Excessive chewing can irritate your cut.
Braces aren’t a particularly fun experience for anyone, but they don’t have to get in the way of the things you love–even wrestling.
Wear an NFHS-approved mouthguard, continue to practice good oral hygiene, and talk to your orthodontist when in doubt. You should be able to keep wrestling without hurting your mouth, your opponent, or your braces.
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- NFHS: Position Statement and Recommendation for Mouthguard Use in Sports
- Denta-Gard Mouth Protectors: NFHS Wrestling Requirement
- Teens Health: Safety Tips: Wrestling
- Colgate: Using A Braces Mouth Guard In Sports
- 914 Smiles: Sports and Braces: What You Need to Know
- Oak Valley Dental: Caring for Athletic Mouth Guards
- Fry Orthodontic Specialists: Can I get a Canker Sore from Braces?