2 Tips For Protecting Your Child Athlete’s Braces

With summer vacation around the corner, you need activities to help fill your child's days. For many children, that means summer sports teams or other athletic activities, like swimming. However, if your child got braces in the past year, you may be worried about how to keep your child's orthodontic work safe while they're playing. Tooth damage should always be a concern during physical activity, but tooth damage with braces – especially metal braces – should be particularly concerning, because the wires can cause severe damage to the lips and gums. Take a look at a few tips for keeping your child's braces and mouth safe this summer.

While Swimming

The biggest risk to your child's mouth while swimming comes from diving into pools that are too shallow and from unexpected slips and falls on the pool deck. In both cases, your child is at risk for hitting the hard surface of the pool or pool deck face-first. This can cause damage that ranges from minor, like a cut on the inside of the lip from the metal braces, to major, like a broken tooth. 

According to the American Red Cross, diving head first is safe only when the water is at least nine feet deep, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to allow your child to dive into any body of water.

To prevent slips and falls on the pool deck at home, consider painting a slip-proof coating over the concrete. At public pools or at friends' homes, skid-proof pool shoes can go a long way toward preventing slips and falls.

While Playing Sports

Whether your child's preferred sport takes place on the field, the court, the rink, or the ring, there is always the possibility of injury when there are balls flying fast, sticks or bats being waved around, or the possibility of body contact. Luckily, there is a simple way to protect your child's teeth and braces during one of these activities: a mouthguard. Although mouthguards are rarely required by sports leagues the way that other protective equipment is, they're a good idea for any child who plays a sport, and especially for children who wear braces.

There are many different mouthguards on the market, ranging from inexpensive orthodontic devices that can be purchased in sporting goods stores to more customized devices made specifically to fit your child's mouth. Mouthguards made for children who wear braces are different from regular mouthguards – they have large flanges made of rubber that can keep your child's lips from coming in contact with the metal brackets.

Make an appointment with your child's orthodontist before summer or in the early part of summer, and ask if there are any special precautions that you should take to protect your child's braces and teeth this summer. The orthodontist can give you a recommendation for the best mouthguard for your child's mouth and instructions to follow in case an injury does occur. That way, you'll be prepared for a fun and safe summer vacation.