Mouthguards can save more than your teeth.

Most dental injuries in sport can be prevented if a professionally fitted mouthguard is worn. 

Sport is engrained in our culture. Most parents on any given weekend are running their children to and from sports commitments. And for good reason, participation in sports can help build self-esteem, reduce obesity, increase confidence and can help build important social skills. 

All types of sports have a potential for injury and if your child is playing a contact sport,dental injuries are the most common type of facial injury. The sorts of dental injuries sustained are often difficult to treat, and often involve a lifetime of expense. Not only can they be costly to repair they can havean aesthetic, functional and psychological effect on the person injured.

Sports at most risk of dental injuries

Players of all ages involved in sports and activities where they are at risk of an injury to the face should protect their teeth with a properly fitted mouthguard.

The greatest number of sport-related injuries occur in the football codes of Rugby League, Rugby Union, Australian football and soccer where the chances of an accidental blow to the face are high.

No mouthguard, No play

Dr Peter Alldritt​, the chairman of the Australian Dental Association‘s oral health committee, is calling on all schools and clubs to introduce a “no mouthguard no play” policy. Be proactive and protect your child’s teeth or your own.

The ADA in the past had believed that any mouthguard was better than none. However new research has now shown that over-the-counter mouthguards could do more harm than good because they can move around in the mouth.

A moving mouthguard is uncomfortable to wear and causes difficulty breathing and swallowing. If it’s hard to talk to your teammate, it’s often removed and replaced many times during a game consequently ongoing compliance becomes difficult. If a mouthguard is not worn there’s noprotection.

How a mouthguard works

A custom-fitted mouthguard works by absorbing and spreading the impact of the damaging blow and is fabricated based on an impression of your teeth and jaw taken by your dentist. 

Types of mouthguards available

Stock mouth protectors – These are the least expensive and can be bought at most chemists and sporting stores. They are preformed, made from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and come ready to wear.Their one size fits all make them bulky and render them useless in adjusting their fit. Difficulty in talking and breathing makes it uncomfortable for the wearer as the jaw has to be clenched to hold the mouthguard in place. They provide little or no protection and may even be thought of as dangerous as they may give the wearer a false sense of security.

Boil and bite mouth protectors –These are made from thermoplastic material and when placed in hot water they soften, they are then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure. They still provide very little protection to the teeth, are loosely fitted, impede breathing and speaking, and can even wedge in the back of the throat at impact which could be life threatening. 

Custom-fitted mouth protectors – A mouthguard that is custom-fitted by your dentist is far superior to an over-the-counter mouthguard because it’s specially designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, is resilient, balances your bite and allows normal speech and breathing. Your dentist will first make an impression of your teeth and a mouthguard is then molded over the model using a special material.These mouth guardsare more expensive than the other types, but they providethe best protection due to their close fit, comfort and cushioning (shock absorption) effect.

What to look for in a mouthguard

With an over the counter mouthguard costing between $10-$30 it’s tempting to opt for the cheaper choice and hope that everything will be ok. Alarmingly most people still choose this option.

An effective mouth guard should:

  • Be thick enough (4 mm) to provide protection against impact.
  • Be comfortable yet tight-fitting
  • not restrict your breathing or speech.
  • allow normal swallowing
  • not cause gagging
  • be odourless and tasteless

How to care for your mouthguard

  • Don’t use hot water when washing your mouthguard
  • Clean your mouthguard after each use using a toothbrush and anti-bacterial soap then rinse in warm water allow it to air-dry.
  • Ensure your mouthguard is completely dry before storing or it will become very smelly
  • Stored in its well-ventilated storage box when not in use.
  • Heat can damage your mouthguard, do not leave it in direct sunlight, in a closed car or in the car’s glove box.

How often should I replace my mouthguard

  • Growth and new teeth can alter the fit. Replace a child’s mouthguard every 12 to 18 months, even if it appears to be in good condition.
  • Replace an adult’s mouthguard after dental treatment or tooth loss. Otherwise, it should last for several years.

Wearing an appropriately designed and made mouthguard while participating in sport will protect against dental injuries and save you in the long run.

To find out more about mouthguards please call Riversdale Dental on (03) 9882 5566