Can a retainer be used as a sports mouthguard?

What is a Retainer?

A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that is used to help keep teeth in their new, corrected positions after braces are removed. Retainers are custom-made to fit the mouth and may be removable or fixed. A removable retainer typically consists of a hard plastic base with a wire across the front of the teeth.

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What is a Sports Mouthguard?

A sports mouthguard is a protective device worn over the teeth and gums to help prevent injury to the mouth during contact sports, such as football, hockey, and lacrosse. The mouthguard is designed to cushion and protect the teeth and gums from impact and to reduce the risk of dental injuries.

Differences Between Retainers and Sports Mouthguards

A retainer and a sports mouthguard are two very different products that serve different purposes. Retainers are designed to keep the teeth in their new corrected positions after braces have been removed, while sports mouthguards are designed to protect the teeth and gums from trauma during contact sports.

Types of Retainers

Retainers are typically made of acrylic, metal, or a combination of the two. Removable retainers are the most common type, and they consist of a hard plastic base with a wire across the front of the teeth. Bonded retainers are usually made of a thin wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth.

The Benefits of Wearing a Sports Mouthguard

Sports mouthguards provide protection for the teeth and gums, helping to reduce the risk of dental injuries, such as broken teeth, chipped teeth, and tooth loss. Wearing a mouthguard also helps prevent concussions, as it helps absorb the force of impact and provides cushioning to the jaw and neck. Additionally, wearing a mouthguard can help reduce the severity of jaw injuries and joint dislocation.

Can a Retainer Be Used as a Sports Mouthguard?

No, a retainer should not be used as a sports mouthguard. Retainers are not designed to provide the same level of protection as a sports mouthguard and are not suitable for use during contact sports. Additionally, the hard plastic and wire of a retainer may cause additional injuries to the mouth if used as a sports mouthguard.

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Why You Shouldn’t Use a Retainer as a Sports Mouthguard

Retainers are not designed to provide the same amount of protection as a sports mouthguard. The hard plastic and wire of a retainer may cause additional injuries to the mouth if used as a sports mouthguard. Additionally, the retainer may not fit securely in the mouth and could move around, which could lead to further injuries.

What to Look For in a Sports Mouthguard

When shopping for a sports mouthguard, it is important to look for one that is comfortable, fits securely in the mouth, and provides adequate protection. It should also be made of materials that are safe and non-toxic. Most importantly, the mouthguard should be properly fitted by a dentist or orthodontist to ensure that it provides the maximum level of protection.

Alternatives to Retainers for Sports

If you are an athlete and do not have a sports mouthguard, there are some alternatives to retainers that can provide some protection. These include:

  • Mouth Tape: Mouth tape is a thin, tear-resistant tape that is designed to provide a barrier between the teeth and gums. It can be used to help reduce the risk of dental injuries.
  • Gel Pads: Gel pads are soft, slightly adhesive gel pads that can be placed over the teeth and gums to provide cushioning and protection.
  • Mouthguards: There are also boil-and-bite mouthguards available that can be customized to fit the mouth. These mouthguards provide some protection, but may not be as effective as a custom-fitted mouthguard.

Conclusion

Retainers and sports mouthguards serve different purposes and should not be used interchangeably. Retainers are designed to keep the teeth in their new corrected positions after braces are removed, while sports mouthguards are designed to protect the teeth and gums from trauma during contact sports. It is important to select a sports mouthguard that is comfortable, fits securely in the mouth, and provides adequate protection. Additionally, it is always best to have a custom-fitted mouthguard made by a dentist or orthodontist to ensure that it provides the maximum level of protection.

References

  • American Dental Association. (2020). Mouthguards. Retrieved from mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/mouthguards.
  • Berkowitz, S. (2020). Retainers: Types, Care, and How Long to Wear Them. Retrieved from healthline.com/health/dental-oral-health/retainers.
  • Munro, D. (2016). Sports Mouthguards: Types, Benefits, and How to Wear One. Retrieved from webmd.com/oral-health/sports-mouthguards#1.