Snorkeling with braces is definitely possible. This article is meant to help you out, because nothing should be standing in your way to explore that lovely marine life.
We have to distinguish between the different kinds of braces and whether or not you’re able to take them off. There are a couple of examples that could interfere with the snorkel mouthpiece. If we take a look at the most common fixed braces, the so called brackets, most of us will be just fine.
What Braces Do You Wear?
Depending on their size and design, some simple braces like a plastic plate in the upper jaw could be worn in combination with a snorkel. Once they are bigger, like the activator for example, adding a snorkel is just impossible. Sometimes it might be better to take simple braces off a swell, depending on whatever your specialist tells you.
Removable braces that won’t let you breathe through a snorkel can be taken off. Usually, if it’s for a short moment, that should be ok. Still, always make sure to ask your dentist or orthodontic if they agree. And if so, make sure they tell you how long you’re allowed to do that.
Most people are allowed to take off their activator for sport activities. Obviously, the amount of time that you don’t wear them should be limited. It’s not uncommon for people to take off their activator whenever they practice a sport. Swimming is a good example too, especially in the ocean. Not just because they make exercising difficult, they can fall out of your mouth as well. Loosing yours in open water could result in not wearing them for days or even weeks.
This being said, different treatments with various braces all require an individual wearing time. If for example you need to wear your activator for 14-16 hours a day, you can plan your snorkel exercise according to that.
Remember: Always consult with your specialist if he or she agrees (or advises you) to take your braces off for snorkeling, and for the amount of time per day.
The most common type of fixed braces are the brackets. They are fixed on each tooth separately and connected through an orthodontic wire, often made out of nickel titanium or steel.
For snorkelers it’s a good thing that these braces only take up a small area on each tooth. Most of the time it’s on the outside of people’s teeth, even though occasionally a specialist opts for brackets on the inside. No matter where they are positioned, in most cases this will not interrupt wearing a snorkel.
According to a couple of articles we read, most snorkels allow for enough room around our teeth. Therefore, snorkeling with brackets should be no problem for most of us. The brackets are usually equipped with an elastic around the edges. Not only to hold the wire into place, but also to cover their sharp edges. Therefore, a silicone snorkel should fit and feel just fine.
In case any sharp edges are still present, or in case the snorkel does not feel comfortable enough, there should be a solution. Some people decide to attach dental wax onto their brackets. Your specialist is probably able to provide that.
Unfortunately a good amount of people who wear brackets need to also wear additional elastics from the upper to the lower jaw. This could be the case for someone who has a Class 2 (where the lower jaw needs to grow forward) or a Class 3 (where the lower jaw has to move backward) jaw relationship. They are used for other purposes like closing an open bite fr example.
These elastics won’t allow you to put a snorkel into your mouth. Fortunately it’s possible and easy to take them off. However, just like with removable braces, this shouldn’t last too long. Ask your specialist about your situation, your snorkel plans and you probably can work something out.
Tips And Tricks
Full Face Snorkel Masks
The number one tip we would suggest to anyone who’s uncertain about snorkeling with braces, is to do a little research about full face snorkel masks. Even though we usually don’t advise them for children, we see kids wearing them all the time. Grown ups wear fixed braces a lot these days too, so maybe these masks will help you out.
These masks don’t require you to put a snorkel into your mouth. The snorkel is integrated into the mask which covers your entire face. You simply breathe like you normally would. They also provide a wider view than the regular masks.
We once wrote an article about snorkeling with dentures. People are afraid to loose them in the ocean. Wearing a full face snorkel mask will “catch” them so to speak in case they fall out unexpectedly. Obviously, as long as the mask is on.
Here’s an example of the one we sometimes wear ourselves. It should give you an idea of what we mean. Make sure you get one that’s been tested to prevent CO2 build-up. We talk about it in more detail in our guide for full face snorkel masks.
Don’t Bite Too Hard
If you wear brackets make sure to not bite into your snorkel mouthpiece too hard. Even though they are often made out of a soft silicone, you could in fact make one of more brackets come loose.
A good amount of people who wear fixed braces experience difficulty to close their teeth correctly during the treatment. Since teeth and sometimes jaws are changing position, some people create a temporary habit of punching their teeth.
It might sound like an obvious advise, but please remember this. Loose brackets can cause pain, especially if it’s the last one. In that case the wire won’t be protected and damage your cheeks. Besides that, nobody wants to go to an emergency dentist whilst enjoying their holiday.
If you feel uncertain about snorkeling with braces, give it a try in the bathtub or maybe a shallow swimming pool. Snorkeling is all about fun and enjoyment, so any irritation or even pain will be a huge distraction. Newbies might be a little scared to snorkel. Just make sure your first experience is a good one or else you might skip it forever.
Join an online forum like this one and meet other people who talk about this topic. There are a lot of people who already tried it. Besides giving you any specific tips, it will definitely boost your confidence that you’ll be able to give it a go.
Make sure your braces are not causing you any troubles. For some people, especially beginners, this is easier said than done. Some of us are already struggling enough to stay afloat, so any other distraction could be too much to handle. Or maybe you’re learning how to swim and snorkel at the same time. Having no other issues on your mind does really help with this learning curve.
Tip: If it’s your kid who wears braces and you plan to bring him or her on a snorkel trip, feel free to also read our giant guide for snorkeling with kids. Loads of helpful information can be found there in order to enhance their experience.
Yes, you can snorkel with most braces. Removable braces can be taken off and fixed braces should cause no problems for most people.
There are a few exceptions like fixed interarch braces for example. A regular snorkel won’t fit. A full face mask could be of help. Just make sure you do your own research about these types of masks in order to understand their pro’s and con’s. You are responsible for yourself and for your child.
Braces that take up space around your head, like the headgear for example, can be taken off temporarily. Usually they need to be worn for 12 hours per day, even if that’s not in a row. Inquire with your specialist about your personal situation.
Brackets should fit most of the snorkels out there, and interarch elastics can be taken off easily. Just be a little careful and don’t bite into your snorkel too hard.
Whatever braces you wear, make sure to always consult with your dentist or orthodontic. Every treatment is different and some people need to wear their braces or elastics more than others. Together you can decide how often or how long you’re able to snorkel with your braces.
The modern world these days allows us to snorkel under a variety of circumstances. Like we already mentioned, it’s possible to snorkel with dentures for example. But you can also snorkel with a beard or mustache. Some people snorkel with earplugs and some even snorkel with glasses. In other words, don’t let your braces stand in your way either.