Around one in three children in the UK has crooked teeth and requires orthodontic treatment to make them straight. And almost one million people began orthodontic procedures in 2010, according to the NHS. Braces are almost always the treatment of choice. When you have new braces you may be unsure what you can and cannot do while wearing them. For example, many people have questions about swimming while using braces.
Braces, either fixed or removable, are intended to make the most of your teeth. Braces not only help your teeth look straighter but they allow you to eat and bite more comfortably and properly care for your teeth. Braces are used to straighten teeth, correctly align your bite so the top and bottom teeth make a neat join, and close a gap between your teeth. You will normally need to wear braces for up to two years and at some point in this time you will want to go swimming or play water sports.
Braces are meant to be worn as often as possible so the orthodontic procedure is effective. But if you wear a removable brace many dentists and orthodontists will tell you to take it out while swimming and store it in a brace case. However, others will tell you to only take the brace out when cleaning it or playing contact sports so as to maximise the time it has to straighten your teeth and not elongate the treatment period. Ask your orthodontist for advice specific to your treatment plan.
Gentle swimming or hanging out at the pool is fine if you are wearing fixed braces but if you want to get more physical you need to wear a mouth guard. Playing water polo or even taking part in synchronized swimming could result in damage to the braces and to your teeth and jaw. Your dentist can create a mouth guard to fit your teeth and over your braces although the cost will not usually be covered on the NHS.
Braces and water
Braces are made of different materials but the most common component is titanium alloy. This alloy material is combined with chromium or nickel, and some braces use precious metals. The alloys are designed to be resistant to corrosion which means they will not rust or wear away. Submerging your braces in water while swimming will not damage them, no matter how often you swim.
Care of braces
Make sure, if you are removing your brace to swim, that you look after it and store it in a hard brace box. If you lose or damage your brace at the pool you will normally need to pay for a replacement. Also, the time during which the brace is being repaired or remade is treatment time lost. Tell your dentist as soon as possible if you lose your brace or damage it while swimming.