At Greg Dougall Dental we understand that sport is an essential part of life for most children and adults. We have seen many sporting accidents in our time. Together with the Australian Dental Association we recommend that anyone, young or old, who takes part in a sport that carries a risk of a knock to the face, should wear a mouthguard.
What sports should I wear a mouthguard to play?
Mouthguards are essential for most contact sports, but they should also be used for other activities where injuries could occur.
Contact Sports: Football, Boxing, Rugby, Martial Arts
Collision Sports: Basketball, Hockey, Water polo, Lacrosse, Netball, Baseball, Softball, Squash, Soccer, Cricket.
General Activities: BMX Bike Riding, Horseriding, Skateboarding, In-line skating, Trampolining, Water skiing, Snow ski racing.
Remember, wear a mouthguard whilst both playing and training so you’re always protected against mouth injury.
Why do I need a mouthguard?
First a couple of statistics to highlight the need for mouthguards:
According to Australian research, about one third of traumatic injuries to teeth are sports-related.
The Sports Medicine Association reports that 50% of children experience some form of dental injury.
Given the likelihood of a sports-related mouth injury, a mouthguard is an essential addition to most young sportspeople’s kit. A mouthguard helps to absorb the shock of a blow to the face and reduces the chance of suffering chipped or broken teeth, internal damage to a tooth, tooth loss and injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth.
Injuries like these can result in time off work or school, can be painful and disfiguring and may involve lengthy and expensive dental treatment. Think of the cost of a custom-fitted mouthguard as an insurance policy against mouth injuries.
There are two main types of mouthguard:
Custom-fitted mouthguards – professionally fitted by your dentist
Over-the-counter or “boil-and-bite” mouthguards – available from chemists and sports shops
The key to getting maximum protection from a mouthguard is how well it fits around your teeth and gums. The better the fit, the better the protection. The Australian Dental Association strongly recommends a custom-fitted mouthguard from your dentist. Over-the-counter varieties don’t provide enough protection from serious injury.
Custom-fitted mouthguards are made by your dentist by taking an impression of your teeth and then creating a plaster mould. He or she can then construct exactly the right type of mouthguard for your sport that has the optimum thickness, coverage and dimensions. Custom-fitted mouthguards are:
- Tight-fitting, providing maximum protection for teeth and gums
- Comfortable, making them easier to wear whilst playing sport
- Shaped to allow you to talk easily without restricting your breathing
Over-the-counter (“boil and bite”) mouthguards
Any mouthguard that hasn’t been custom-fitted by a dentist will be significantly less effective in protecting you against serious mouth injury. An ill-fitting mouthguard is a lot less comfortable to wear and, as some studies suggest, many only be slightly better than not wearing one at all. Both the Australian Dental Association and Standards Australia do not recommend over-the-counter mouthguards. However, if there is absolutely no other alternative, they may provide a short-term solution.
How long does a mouthguard last?
You should get your mouthguard checked every 12 months by your dentist to make sure that it still fits correctly and hasn’t been damaged. Children, especially should have their mouthguards checked regularly as new adult teeth come through. Take it along to your regular dental check-up to have it checked out.
Caring for a mouthguard
- Rinse in cold water after use and store in a well ventilated plastic container
- Store it out of direct sunlight – mouthguards distort at high temperatures
- Rinse it occasionally in mouthwash
- Take your mouthguard along to your regular dental check up
- Replace it if it gets damaged