Wearing a mouthguard is imperative to protecting your teeth whilst being active, especially if you or your child plays a physical sport with the risk of contact. Without a mouthguard, teeth can be exposed to damage which can vary from a chipped tooth, to more serious jaw and dental injuries.
According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), only 36 per cent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 years, wear a mouthguard when playing sport. This is despite thousands of children being treated for dental injuries each year – injuries which the ADA believes, could have been minimised or even prevented through the use of a protective mouthguard.
When should a mouthguard be worn?
A protective mouthguard should be worn by anyone who plays a sport with the potential of contact to the face, such as rugby, football, boxing or any style of martial arts. However, the ADA also suggests mouthguards be worn by anyone intending on participating in sports likely to involve a collision, such as hockey, soccer, lacrosse, netball, cricket, horse riding, BMX bike riding, skateboarding, inline skating and snow or water skiing.
If you wear padding or protective gear for the rest of your body, there is a strong chance that you should be protecting your teeth and jaw, too.
Why is it important to wear a mouthguard?
Mouthguards don't just act as a buffer for your teeth. A custom-made mouthguard protects your jaw joint, head and neck from being injured, while cushioning any impact to your teeth.
According to the ADA, mouthguards also help to minimise the risk of injuring the soft tissue surrounding your gums and the inside of your lips, as well as potentially lessening the severity of a concussion.
What are the risks of not wearing a mouthguard?
Without a mouthguard, injuries sustained through impact whilst playing sport can be very painful, with a momentary collision having the potential to cause permanent damage.
Dental injuries also have the potential to be disfiguring, the treatment for which can be both lengthy and expensive. These sorts of injuries can also result in lost time from school, study or work due to recovery, which can also be a slow process.
The effort made to remember using a mouthguard, is far outweighed by the pain associated with an accident on the field. The same concept goes for the cost of acquiring a custom-made mouthguard that will protect your mouth.
What are the different types of mouthguard?
When it comes to choosing a mouthguard, your first port of call, should be your dentist. An impression is taken of your teeth to create a model for your mouth. Your dentist can customise a mouthguard to suit your specific needs, creating the best possible fit for your mouth.
At HR Hocking Dental Surgery, we can create a mouthguard that fits well and that is comfortable and allows you to speak clearly, without restricting your breathing. Most importantly, it won't shift around in your mouth or fall out during sport.
Over the counter vs. custom-fitted
According to the ADA, over the counter mouthguards (also known as "boil and bite" mouthguards) do not provide sufficient protection against jaw or dental injuries. These types of mouthguards are heated in boiling water, before biting into them to create an impression of the teeth. They also encompass standard 'stock' mouthguards which don't require a fitting process.
A mouthguard that is ill-fitting is the equivalent of a loose knee or shoulder pad. It may appear that you're protected, however, the mouthguard won't necessarily do the job when it comes to protecting you, at the critical moment of impact.
How to take care of a mouthguard?
Taking good care of your custom-fitted mouthguard can mean that it not only retains its shape, but also lasts longer. The ADA recommends rinsing your mouthguard with cold water after use, before storing it in a plastic container. High temperatures can potentially cause mouthguards to lose their shape, so ensure that you store it away from direct sunlight.
It's also best practice to rinse your mouthguard with mouthwash from time to time, as well as having it checked when you visit your dentist. By getting your dentist to check your mouthguard, they can ensure that it is still fitting correctly and that it doesn't need replacing.
How long will a mouthguard last?
The life span of a mouthguard tends to vary, based on the amount of use. It can also depend on the age of the person using it. For young developing mouths and growing teeth, children's mouthguards may need to be replaced more frequently than adults.
It's important for adults and children alike, to have their mouthguards checked by their dentist. This ensures that they are still fitting properly and offering maximum protection for teeth and jaws. You can potentially lessen the frequency with which you need to replace your mouthguard, by taking good care of it when not in use.
If you or your child is in need of a mouthguard, please call us on 9534 3481 to book an appointment.