Orthodontic Guide to Sports Safety in McKinney

Get your head in the game! But only if you have your mouthguard…

At Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry in McKinney, we have tons of all-star athletes coming in and out of our office for dental checkups or braces. As sports fanatics ourselves, we love to hear how active our patients are in their afterschool activities.

As much as we like playing sports, we’d like to remind parents about the risks that accompany them. Unfortunately, we’ve seen all types of chipped teeth and dental injuries over the years that could have been easily prevented.

It’s widely assumed that sports organizations have safety regulations in place that will protect children, but many leagues don’t take precautions for dental safety. The risk is even greater when kids have metal braces that could get caught in the mouth and cause serious injury.

Luckily, there are tons of different ways to keep kids safe when they play sports! As orthodontic specialists, we want all our patients and their families to have access to sports-safety resources, so they can play with peace of mind. In this guide, parents can learn how to protect their children’s beautiful smiles as they play local sports in McKinney.

Basketball

Basketball is a great way for kids to make new friends, get physical activity, and practice self-discipline. If you’re looking for a kids team, the PSA McKinney located on El Dorado Parkway offers 8 dual-purpose courts and an indoor arena. They offer leagues and classes for basketball in the winter. Cockrill Middle School also hosts indoor basketball leagues as a courtesy of i9 Sports. There are three major age groups available that are largely based on age and mastery of the sport: Pee Wee, Junior, and Senior.

You can still play basketball with braces, but our orthodontist recommends getting a custom fit mouthguard to prevent injuries just in case. Since basketball is a team sport, there’s a risk that your child can accidentally be pushed or hit with a basketball. In this event, you definitely want a mouthguard to keep the harsh edges of the metal braces from scraping against the mouth.

If your child refuses to wear a mouthguard, remind him or her that the top players all play mouthguards! Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Lebron James all use mouthguards because they take the sport seriously!

Illinois basketball

Soccer

Even though the World Cup just ended, soccer is still the most popular sport in the world. There are lots of ways to get involved with the sport – you can sign up for intramurals at your child’s school or join a separate league on the weekends. The McKinney Soccer Association offers both youth and adult programs.

Though soccer involves more footwork and running, it is still a contact sport. Though mouthguards aren’t mandatory for soccer players, we recommend getting ones in case the games get too aggressive. The mouthguard can help defend against flying balls and elbows that could knock out teeth.

Make sure to clean the mouthguard after use. Stinky shin guards are understandable, but stinky mouth guards are just gross. An easy homemade way to clean mouth guards is by mixing hydrogen peroxide (baking soda) with vinegar and water, then soaking the mouth guards in them for at least 30 minutes. You can also brush them manually with soap and water.

Bacteria can easily grow on mouthguards because they are stored in wet, dark places. Since they stay in your mouth, there’s also plenty of sugar for bacteria to feed on, so remind your kids not to eat with them on. Braces-friendly meals and snacks are not necessarily mouth guard-friendly, too. You can prevent weird and gross organisms from occupying your mouthguards by keeping them clean.

Football

With ISD’s $70 million dollar football stadium to open up this year in McKinney, football has been more popular than ever before. Many start playing this all-American sport on junior leagues at McKinney Sports Connection and eventually progress to high school and college teams.

Despite our city’s love of tackle football, it is admittedly one of the most dangerous sports you can play. Football is a contact sport that requires lots of tackling, shoving, and colliding into other people, so players should be equipped with a helmet, shoulder pads, and mouthguards to prevent possible head and dental injuries.

Even though the proper equipment will minimize the risk of injury, children can still get hurt when playing. Common injuries include shoulder dislocation, knee ligament damage, and concussions. It’s important to understand how to identify and treat them for a full recovery.

Baseball

Considering baseballs can fly up to 110 MPH, they can cause some serious damage and you’ll want to protect your face from them. Batters, pitchers, and catchers are all required to wear helmets to prevent any balls from hurting them. Catchers also need chest protectors and leg guards.

Unfortunately, most standard baseball helmets don’t actually offer protection for the mouth. We recommend getting a helmet with a face cage or ear flaps to stop balls from damaging the teeth and jaw.

A popular aspect of baseball culture is chewing gum or sunflower seeds in the dugout. While this is fine in moderation, kids with braces should find an alternative snack. Sunflower seeds are very hard and they can damage the metal brackets or push the wires out of place. Furthermore, cracking too many sunflower seeds will wear down teeth regardless of whether your child has braces or not. Gum can get stuck in the braces and leave a sugary residue that creates plaque. Instead, have your child chew on sugar-free gum in small amounts to avoid plaque buildup.

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Lacrosse

Not all schools offer lacrosse teams in McKinney, but there is a co-ed league for the community. Boys and girls can sign up for youth, junior varsity, or varsity teams.

Lacrosse is an intense sport that uses lacrosse sticks (similar to hockey sticks but with nets) to throw lacrosse balls into the opposing side’s goal. Not only is this a high contact sport where people are ramming into each other, but balls are also involved and flying at high speeds.

Most teams require the use of mouthguards, helmets, gloves, pads, and sometimes, goggles. In lacrosse, the mouthguard will absorb shock from any potential collisions or accidents when playing the sport. This keeps the teeth, braces, and sensitive inner tissue of the mouth safe. That’s why it’s important to choose a mouthguard that fits the mouth correctly and comfortable without impacting the braces.

Mouthguards can be softer or harder depending on the material used to build them. Keep in mind that the tradeoff for softer, more comfortable mouthguards is less protection. A custom fit mouthguard is more pricey and provides the most protection because it fits the exact shape of the mouth, but it will need to be adjusted or replaced as the teeth shift with braces. It’s also important to get mouthguards that aren’t too loose or too tight. Tight mouthguards could interfere with the movement of the teeth by the braces and loose mouthguards are less effective at protecting the teeth.

Martial Arts

Taekwondo, karate, and judo are just a few forms of martial arts and they all have a different origin, style, and technique. Martial arts are more about learning movements and self defense than aggression. Most instructors will be very safe and careful when teaching students, but there is a chance that your child could get hurt during training.

There are tons of self defense and martial arts classes available in McKinney. Popular ones for young ones are taekwondo and karate. If you’d like your child to get his or her black belt, start them younger. The sport requires immense practice and discipline to master and it could take many years.

Sparring sessions could include a variety of kicking and punching, but you’ll only need protective gear if you’re practicing certain forms of martial arts. Here’s a summary of what you can wear:

  • Jiu-Jitsu: Ear guards, knee guards, headgear
  • Karate: Gloves, hand and footpads, cup
  • Taekwondo: Chestguard, shin, and arm guards
  • Aikido: Head guards, chest guard, knee and elbow support

Not every instructor will require students to wear all the protective gear, especially if they haven’t started sparring. Ask the instructor what’s required in competition to get a better idea of which parts to invest in. Regardless of which art you are performing, we recommend getting a mouthguard to reduce injury to the teeth, lips, and gums when you have braces.

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Swim

In McKinney, swimming is a popular sport and recreational activity, especially when the weather gets really hot. There are two main public pools to practice swimming or simply lounge about. The Old Settler’s Aquatic Center on Louisiana Street is free to use for children 3 years and younger, $1.25 for youth 9 and under, and $2 for 10-year-olds and up. It includes a shallow leisure pool, regular pool, slide, waterfall, and floor bubblers. The Juanita Maxfield Aquatic Center on Mcdonald Street is free for children under 3, $1.25 for children 9 and under, and $1.75 for children 10 and up. The Metroplex Aquatics also organizes competitive swimming for cities in North Texas that is open for tryouts. There are also swim classes available from the city for different age groups of kids.

Since most braces are made with titanium alloy, the water and chemicals in the pool shouldn’t have any effect on them. Rubber bands, on the other hand, can fall off, but those are easily replaceable.

For water polo players, however, the chance of collision and injury is higher because it’s a high contact sport. In the water, players may have a more difficult time navigating, resulting in accidental injuries. It’s important to get a mouth guard that is custom fit for water polo, so your child can breathe naturally as they swim and communicate with other players.

Hockey

Like football, hockey is a high impact sport that requires lots of protective gear and equipment to keep its players safe. It’s especially easy to crash into other people and walls on slippery ice and skates. Shin guards, elbow pads, knee pads, chest pads, jockstraps, neck guard, and hockey gloves are needed to stay safe and warm! The helmet used for hockey has a mouth cage to prevent flying sticks and pucks from crushing the jaw, but mouthguards are required as well.

There are tons of other youth sports offered in McKinney, but the majority of them aren’t contact sports and don’t require quite as much equipment to stay safe. Running, golf, and tennis, for example, should be fine to play without helmets and mouthguards. If your children are interested in playing any sports at all, we encourage parents to take a look at the safety regulations and risks associated with them to be prepared. There are also tons of other braces-friendly activities in McKinney that kids can do after school. 

At Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, we offer pediatric dental and orthodontic services for kids of all ages. We love sports, but we hope parents and athletes take preventative measures to keep their teeth and jaws safe, especially when they have braces! If an orthodontic emergency should arise, please call our office immediately, so we can assess and treat the problem.