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My child wears dental braces. Can they still play sport?

Sport is important for a child’s development. It keeps them physically fit and teaches important social skills, too. So, if your child is getting dental braces, can they still play sport? Absolutely!

Dental braces should NOT prevent your child from playing any sport. However, particularly if participating in a contact sport, like rugby or hockey, they should always wear a mouth guard (incidentally, hockey is second only to rugby for sports injuries).

Will any mouth guard do?

We won’t usually make a custom mouth guard for a patient; when their teeth move their mouth guard will eventually no longer fit — we want something that will fit for the duration of a patient’s treatment. We do have some options available, though. Usually we’ll advise a patient to get an off-the-shelf orthodontic mouth guard.

General mouth guards

Please note your child needs an orthodontic mouth guard, not one for wearing without braces. There is a difference.

A general mouth guard is made from thermoplastic. Before use, it needs to be heated in boiling water and then bitten into to make an imprint of the teeth. When wearing dental braces, this type of mouth guard doesn’t work well. This is because teeth will move during the course of orthodontic treatment. A general mouth guard will try to pull the teeth back into their original position, or the mouth guard will eventually no longer fit. Also, general mouth guards fit a bit too well, so if your child gets hit hard in the teeth, the brackets on their braces can get knocked off.

Orthodontic braces

So, we recommend your child wears an orthodontic mouth guard. Orthodontic mouth guards are made from silicone — you don’t have to boil them before use. They have flanges designed to be bitten down on to keep them in position. They also have large rubber flanges that slip under the lips to prevent them from being pushed onto the brackets.

Playing a wind musical instrument

We have several patients who play instruments you have to blow into, like saxophones and trumpets, etc. — some are quite accomplished. Wearing braces won’t scuttle their musical careers; however, it can take about a week to find the “right notes” again.
If your child plays a wind instrument, they may need to put something over their braces. There are special covers available; however, wax, which we also use to protect the mouth, is usually sufficient.

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Turner Lim Orthodontists introduce a new scanner to improve quality & patient experience

Technolgy in orthodontics is always changing. And to stay ahead of the game, we recently invested in a new piece of equipment — a 3M True Definition Scanner.

“So what?” you might say.

Well, as orthodontists, there are two key things that concern us: patient experience and the quality of our work. The new scanner enables us to improve both these things.

Making an impression

If you’re getting braces fitted, we must first take an impression of your teeth — a 3-D model that enables us to measure tooth and bones sizes, etc., and determine the best course of treatment. Until recently this meant creating a mould.

The problem with moulds

It’s fair to say that having a mould taken of your teeth and gums can be messy and uncomfortable. It involves putting a tray filled with a substance called alginate into your mouth.  The alginate feels a bit like cake batter and can sometimes cause a gagging sensation. We hold the tray in place until the alginate sets, which takes about a minute for each of your top and bottom teeth.

Later, we pour plaster into the mould to create a model. Of course, having a physical model means we need somewhere to keep it. At the end of your treatment we’ll usually give it to you as a souvenir. However, we still accumulate quite a few models that need to be disposed of (see phone below).

Moulds

Disposing of old moulds

The 3M True Definition Scanner

Our new scanner replaces the need for moulds — no more gagging! And it, ultimately, enables us to provide better treatment.

Because no moulds are needed, the whole process is much quicker and less messy. We use a scanning wand to take a scan of your teeth and gums, which takes just a few minutes. You’ll even be able to see the images on a screen to get a better understanding of what’s going on.

There is potential for inaccuracies with moulds. Digital impressioning, on the other hand, takes a video of your teeth and gums enabling us to keep a digital record. It’s like looking at a high-definition photograph, and it allows us examine your bite and view your bite from many angles and do lots of measurements. As you can imagine, it’s also much easier to send a digital file to others than a physical model.

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I’m getting braces. Why must I have teeth removed?

Patients often ask why it’s necessary to have teeth removed when getting braces. Well, if possible, we prefer not to remove teeth—treament is faster if we don’t. However, to ensure your treatment is successful, the removal of some teeth is often recessary.

There are several reasons why you may need teeth removed when receiving orthodontic treatment. Here are three common reasons:

  1. crowding
  2. poor lip posture
  3. mismatched jaw size.

The teeth that most often need to be removed are premolars — the ones between your eyeteeth (below your eyes) and molars (the biggest ones at the back of your mouth).

Note: As orthodontists, we don’t usually remove teeth ourselves. Instead, we’ll refer you to your family dentist.

1: Crowding

Crowding is more common in modern humans than our ancestors. This is because, thanks to evolution, modern jaw bones have become smaller and are often too small for their teeth to fit.

You see, we don’t need as much force to eat our food like we used to. Our diet is softer — less gritty — so our jaws have become smaller and our teeth are subjected to less wear and tear.

With crowding, removing some teeth is sometimes necessary to get the best and most stable outcome long term for the patient.  Trying to keep teeth in cases where there is severe crowding,  can cause a patient’s teeth to stick out and also result in gum or bone loss.

In the case of mild crowding, expansion, rather than extraction, can be an option. (This is when the size of the patient’s arch is increased by moving the teeth outwards using what’s known as an expander appliance).

2: Poor lip posture

If you have poor lip posture, your face can have an unbalanced look. Lip posture is affected by the position of the underlying teeth. If your front teeth stick out, removing some teeth will enable us to move them back to improve your lip posture. If your lip posture is already good, failure to remove teeth could cause your teeth and lips to stick out, and we won’t be able to close your lips.

3: Mismatched jaw size

If your upper and lower jaws are mismatched, you will have either an under or overbite. With an overbite, your lower teeth could bite into the roof of your mouth. In the case of severely mismatched jaws, surgery can be the best treatment. However, if the mismatch is mild, or surgery is not an option for you, the removal of teeth can compensate and camouflage the jaw mismatch.

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