Do athletes wear retainers?

Do Athletes Wear Retainers?

Retainers are tools used in orthodontics to keep teeth in proper alignment after braces or surgery. They serve as a method of supporting the newly aligned teeth and can be worn for a few months or for several years, depending on the individual’s needs. Many people assume that athletes do not wear retainers, but the truth is that retainers can be beneficial for athletes in a variety of ways.

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What Are Retainers?

Retainers are small pieces of metal, plastic, or a combination of both that are worn on the upper or lower teeth. They are custom-made to fit the individual’s mouth and can be removable or fixed. Fixed retainers are generally made of a thin wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth and can’t be removed. Removable retainers can be taken out and cleaned, and they are the most common type used by athletes.

Benefits of Retainers for Athletes

Retainers help athletes maintain their oral health and provide numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved Performance: Retainers help athletes keep their teeth in proper alignment, which can increase their performance on the field or court. This is especially true for athletes who wear mouthguards.
  • Protection from Injury: Retainers provide extra protection for the teeth and jaw, reducing the risk of injury during physical activity. They also help reduce the amount of stress on the jaw joint, which can help prevent long-term damage.
  • Increased Comfort: Retainers help athletes keep their teeth in proper alignment, which can lead to improved comfort while playing and training. This is especially beneficial for athletes who wear mouthguards.
  • Improved Appearance: Retainers can help athletes maintain their smiles and improve their overall appearance. This can be beneficial both on and off the field.

Are Retainers Right for Every Athlete?

Retainers can be beneficial for athletes of all levels, but they may not be the right choice for everyone. Before deciding if retainers are right for you, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • Age: Retainers are generally recommended for athletes aged 10 and older. Younger athletes may not be able to properly care for and maintain a retainer.
  • Dental Health: Retainers can be beneficial for athletes with braces or other dental issues, but they may not be the best choice for athletes with healthy teeth and gums.
  • Activity Level: The type of activity an athlete participates in can also determine if retainers are right for them. Retainers can be beneficial for athletes who participate in contact sports, but they may not be necessary for athletes who participate in non-contact activities.
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Types of Retainers

There are several types of retainers that athletes can choose from, including:

  • Hawley Retainers: These retainers are the most common type and are made of metal wire and acrylic. They are removable, adjustable, and easy to care for.
  • Clear Retainers: These retainers are made of clear plastic and are nearly invisible when worn. They are removable and comfortable to wear, but they may not provide as much protection as other types.
  • Fixed Retainers: These retainers are made of a thin wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth. They are not removable and must be professionally cleaned.
  • Combination Retainers: These retainers combine a Hawley retainer with a fixed retainer for the best of both worlds. They offer more protection and are more comfortable to wear than other types.

Caring for Retainers

It’s important for athletes to properly maintain and care for their retainers to ensure they last as long as possible. The most important step is to brush and floss regularly to remove any food or debris that can get trapped in the retainer. It’s also important to soak the retainer in a denture cleaner or a retainer cleaning solution at least once a day. Additionally, athletes should remember to remove the retainer before participating in physical activity to reduce the risk of damage.

When to See a Dentist

It’s important for athletes to visit their dentist regularly to make sure their retainers are in good condition. If the retainer is damaged, it’s important to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Additionally, athletes should have their retainers professionally cleaned at least once a year to help ensure they last as long as possible.

Cost of Retainers

The cost of retainers can vary depending on the type of retainer and the individual’s dental insurance coverage. Generally speaking, Hawley retainers are the least expensive and can cost anywhere from $75 to $200. Clear retainers and fixed retainers are usually more expensive and can cost up to $600 or more.

Conclusion

Retainers can be beneficial for athletes of all levels and can help them maintain their oral health and performance. While retainers are generally recommended for athletes aged 10 and older, it’s important to consider the individual’s age, dental health, and activity level before deciding if a retainer is right for them. Additionally, athletes must remember to properly maintain and care for their retainers in order to ensure they last as long as possible.