Surprisingly, one of the most common questions we have to answer for our patients is: “Can I go swimming with braces?”.
Yes, you can swim with braces! We have lots of patients that are competitive swimmers.
Getting braces may seem intimidating, but actually, it isn’t as bad as you think! We understand that getting braces is a big step in life and one that requires some (relatively small) adjustments to the things you do and the way you live. Braces mean that you can’t do things like eating corn on the cob or really sticky candy; they mean that you have to do things like regularly go to the orthodontist and try a little harder to floss your teeth.
Otherwise, life carries on pretty much as normal — you can dance, you can sing and you can swim!
Swimming is great and good for the body, mind and soul. But we understand the concern. People are afraid that swimming might somehow damage the braces or teeth, or somehow prolong the amount of time their braces need to be worn.
Let’s go over some of the notions surrounding the idea of swimming with braces so that you know what you can do and where you might want to draw the line when it comes to swimming time.
Swimming with braces
There is this idea floating around out there that braces might begin to rust if one spends too much time underwater. If this is a concern of yours, rest assured that you need not worry. The metal part of braces are made of a titanium alloy and are very rust-resistant. On the other hand, if you have ceramic braces or Invisalign, you need worry even less; ceramic and plastic can’t rust!
This applies to chlorinated pool water, fresh lake water and salty ocean water alike. No matter what kind of water you are swimming in, your braces will be able to withstand it.
Water sports with braces
Here is where things start to get a little less obvious. Playing water sports, or any sport for that matter means that a person ought to take a few precautions and possibly exercise some restraint when they have braces.
Water polo is a good example. Also known as super hard water volleyball, water polo involves smashing a ball over a net toward the opposing team, all while staying afloat in a pool of water. And much like in regular volleyball, the chances of taking a ball to the face are somewhat high.
If you have braces on, this might be a good sport to either sit out of or use a mouthguard during. A ball to the face has the potential to crack or damage your braces or teeth. Sure, this can always be fixed, but it will likely cost money and probably mean that you’ll have to wear braces for even longer than you anticipated. And we know that nobody wants that.
Water-skiing and surfing
Here’s another tricky one. While both water skiing and surfing are impressive sports, there is certainly an increased chance of trauma to both the head and face during these intense activities. Now, we’ve met avid surfers and water skiers, and we know that their passion often overrides their concern. In this case, we again recommend a mouth guard in the event of a slip, fall and/or face plant.
What to do if…
Perhaps you’ve decided to take the plunge and partake in some water activities and, despite your best efforts to play safe, you’ve managed to damage your braces or your teeth. Perhaps it’s a broken wire or a chipped tooth. What do you do next?
If you are surfing or water skiing, there’s a good chance that you are not near your orthodontist. You are more likely at the ocean or at a lake that’s a decent drive away from any immediate help. The good news is that soon enough you are going to be fine, so try not to panic.
But here are some things you can do in case of an orthodontic emergency:
- Keep your orthodontist’s number saved in your phone and call immediately for further advice.
- If you are travelling, ask your orthodontist before you leave if they can recommend a colleague who works where you are going. If not, simply look online ahead of time. If you do have an emergency, you will be glad to have already sorted this out.
- Take a mouthguard, and use it! You can either get fitted for a custom mouthguard or get a store bought one. A custom fitted one will offer better protection but something is better than nothing in this case.
Swimming with Braces: So What?
In conclusion, water activities are not likely to damage your braces. However, the more intense the sport, the higher the risk, so proceed with caution. We wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from doing the things they love and that keep them healthy and happy. But we do advise that people protect themselves as best they can, especially if there is an increased chance of getting hurt.
As always, take some precautions if you are travelling, say to Hawaii, and surfing is high on your list of things to do. A surfboard to the head is known to happen and it will make things so much easier if you already know what to do, especially when you’re seeing stars and dealing with bent wires or chipped teeth.
But live your life and have fun, and definitely go for a swim.
And if you’re still thinking about whether or not braces are right for you, book a consultation with us. We’d love to help you decide which options are right for you, and how they can fit into your active lifestyle. There are options for everyone, even if you are the world’s best water skier (or are practising to be!).
Give us a call at South Surrey Smiles and we’ll be happy to help!
Dr. Lesley Williams is a Certified Specialist in Orthodontics. She grew up in Victoria, BC with her parents and two sisters.
After being awarded her Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree in 1989, Dr. Williams then spent six years as a dentist in general practice before deciding that she wanted to further her education by undertaking three extra years of highly specialized training in orthodontics. With her Masters in Science (Orthodontics) degree under her belt, she went on to sit the Orthodontic Specialty Fellowship exams through the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. To date, her status as an active leader in the orthodontic profession means that she holds the following qualifications and positions:
- Certified Specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
- Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada
- Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics
- Examiner for the Royal College of Dentists of Canada and the American Board of Orthodontics.
- Former president of the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists (representing 2900 orthodontists from the 4 western Canadian provinces and 8 western American states).
- Active member of the Edward H. Angle Society of Orthodontists.