Physical activity is a vital part of an overall health regimen, but it can also be dangerous.
The Australian Dental Association notes that sports and some kinds of athletics can lead to tooth damage if appropriate oral protection is not used.
Estimates are that 1/5 of Australian children suffer dental trauma by the age of 14. A substantial chunk of that trauma occurs during sports or athletics.
This is why West Ryde Dental believes that mouth guards are an underutilised but indispensable piece of athletic gear for children, teens, and adults who take part in contact sports or athletics.
In the face of sports-induced dental injury, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) collaborated on policy making mouthguards required kit for registered players during training and games for sports including wrestling, boxing, hockey, football, martial arts, basketball, netball, and lacrosse
Wearing a mouthguard while practising and playing helps avoid severe damage to gums, teeth, lips, and face.
Statistics prove how important mouthguards can be
- Mouthguards prevent over 200,000 injuries annually.
- Dental injuries caused by sports cause over 600,000 emergency room visits each year.
- Athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing mouthguards.
- Athletes who use stock mouthguards are twice as likely to suffer a concussion than those who wear custom built mouthguards.
That last point is important – while mouthguards help, nothing helps as much as a custom-built mouthguard. We’ll get back to that in a bit. First, here are the elements needed for a perfect mouthguard:
A perfect mouthguard should:
- Protect, protect, protect
- Be comfortable yet stay firmly in place
- Allow normal swallowing, breathing, and talking
- Not lead to gagging
- Have no odour or taste
- Be thick enough (4 mm) to protect against impact
The essential functions of the mouthguard:
- Prevention of bruising and cuts during impact.
- Prevention of fractured teeth or dislocations
- Opposing teeth are kept from contact with each other.
- The lower jaw is protected against damage or fracture.
- Reduction of injury to the brain.
- Prevention against some neck injuries.
- Give athletes confidence they are protected.
What are the mouthguard options?
There are three types of mouthguards:
Stock mouth protectors are economical and can be purchased over-the-counter at most sporting good stores and department stores. They are pre-moulded and advertised as ready to wear.
Because they are precast, almost nothing can be done to make them fit better. They make breathing and talking difficult, feel clumsy in the mouth and provide the least protection of all three kinds of mouthguards.
In some cases, they can cause damage of their own. Unanimously, dentists recommend custom-fitted mouthguards as opposed to stock mouthguards.
Boil and bite mouth protectors are also available over-the-counter at many sporting goods stores and they are a step up as they give a slightly better fit than stock mouth protectors.
The “boil and bite” mouth guard is constructed from a thermoplastic material that becomes pliable with the application of heat.
The “boil and bite” is submerged in hot water to soften, then quickly placed into the mouth and shaped around teeth using tooth, finger, and tongue pressure.
This gives a better fit than stock mouthguards, but one that is inferior to custom-fitted mouthguards.
Custom-fitted mouthguards are the top-of-the-line mouthguard. They are individually designed for each athlete and manufactured in the dental office or a professional laboratory.
Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth using a mould, and a mouthguard is then created from that model. Due to the use of the custom material and because of the time and work involved, a custom-made mouth guard is more expensive than the other two options, but it provides the most comfort and protection by a large margin.
In most cases, mouthguards cover upper teeth, but in some instances, depending on other protective gear, your dental condition, and your sport, your dentist will recommend a mouthguard for lower teeth as well.
Customised mouthguards are constructed from scratch, which means they can feature fashion options that personalise the guard; Team colours, names, animal characteristics, or other designs that reflect the athlete’s personality.
Taking care of your mouth guard
To ensure a long lifespan for your mouthguard, take good care of it. Wash it in lukewarm soapy water and rinse well before and after use. For maximum protection against germs brush your mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste before and after use.
Replace your mouthguard if it shows signs of wear or aging. Also, if the mouthguard is for a child, it’s lifespan should be short. As a child grows, so should their mouthguard.
If you or your child are athletic, visit us at West Ryde Dental to discuss the possibility of a custom-designed, personalised mouthguard.
The West Ryde Dental Clinic Advantage
At West Ryde Dental Clinic, our treatments and service are 100% personalised to you and your needs. Our dentists are highly motivated and accredited practitioners with graduate degrees from the University of Sydney.
Alongside our dentists, the supporting staff at West Ryde Dental Clinic are tremendously dedicated and experienced to ensure that each visit with us is as pleasant as possible.