Why should you invest in a mouthguard?
If you play a contact sport – and a lot of Aussies do – you risk injuring your teeth. These sorts of injuries are often difficult to treat and can involve a lifetime of expense.
And it’s not just the obvious contact sports like rugby union, rugby league, AFL, hockey and boxing that can hurt. Sports like cricket, basketball, netball, touch football, skateboarding and soccer carry a real risk of accidental collision, and resulting dental trauma.
There are six real benefits to wearing a mouthguard:
It can prevent laceration and bruising during impact by acting as a buffer between the soft tissue of the lips and cheeks, and the harder teeth
It protects teeth and bone in the upper and lower jaws from seismic contact with each other
It prevents tooth fractures or dislocations by cushioning the teeth from direct frontal blows while distributing the forces of an impact
It helps reduce neurologic injury by acting as a shock absorber between the upper and lower jaws
It fills edentulous spaces (areas where there are no teeth) which helps to support adjacent teeth
It helps prevent neck and jaw injuries.
Types of mouthguard
There are three basic types:
Stock mouthguards – the cheapest and most readily available, they are also the least effective. This type provides a very low level of protection. They only fit loosely, which gives a very real risk of airway obstruction should the wearer become unconscious
Boil-and-bite mouthguards – most commonly used, but the downside is that they don’t provide the proper thickness, comfort or critical protection of the posterior teeth. Because of the inaccurate fit, wearers often have to clench in order to hold them into position
Custom fitted mouthguards - far superior to those you can buy over the counter because each is specially designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, balances your bite, and allows speech and normal breathing. If properly used, stored and checked by your dentist every year, a custom fitted mouthguard should last several seasons.
Custom fitted mouthguards give you the confidence to concentrate on playing the sport you love. The Australian Dental Association recommends that you should consider it a mandatory part of your sporting equipment, no matter your age or experience.
To keep your mouthguard in tip-top working order, you’ll need to keep it out of the sun, wash it in cold water after use, air dry and keep on the supplied plastic model cast. Remember to give it a good brush with your toothbrush before each use and get your dentist to make sure it’s still okay when you go in for your regular check-ups.
What do you do if there is a dental trauma . . .
If a tooth is displaced, try to move it back into alignment and get to your dentist as soon as possible
If a tooth is knocked out, rinse it – milk or saline solution are best, but if these aren’t available, use saliva – and then place it back into the socket, if possible. It this isn’t possible, keep the tooth wet, inside a bag, until you get to a dentist.