Mouthguards help to protect teeth whilst being active, especially for those who play contact sport. Without a mouthguard, teeth are susceptible to damage including chipping, jaw and dental injuries.
Thousands of children are treated for dental injuries every year, due to contact sport. According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), only 36 percent of children between the ages of five and 17 years wear a mouthguard, when playing sport. The ADA believes this figure could have been minimised or even prevented through the use of a protective mouthguard.
When should a mouthguard be worn?
A mouthguard should be worn whenever a contact sport is played, where an injury is likely to occur. Common contact sports include rugby, football, boxing, martial arts, 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?
Custom-fitted mouthguards help protect against jaw joint, head and neck injuries as well as teeth. Mouthguard can also minimise the risk of soft tissue injury surrounding the gums and lips.
What are the risks of not wearing a mouthguard?
Without a mouthguard, injuries sustained through high impact whilst playing sport, can be very painful. A momentary collision has the potential to cause damage, permanently.
Serious dental injuries can also disfigure the face. Treatment is both lengthy and costly, with the potential for recovery being a slow process.
What are the different types of mouthguard?
When it comes to choosing a mouthguard, it is best to seek primary advice from your dentist. Your dentist can customise a mouthguard to suit your specific needs, creating the best fit for your mouth. This is done by creating an impression of your teeth, to create a model.
At Pinjarra Dental, we can create you a custom-fitted mouthguard which 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 while you play sport.
Custom-fitted vs. over the counter (boil and bite)
According to the ADA, over the counter mouthguards (also known as "boil and bite" mouthguards) do not provide sufficient protection for jaw or dental injuries. These types of mouthguards are heated in boiling water before you bite into them, to create an impression of your teeth. They also encompass standard 'stock' mouthguards, which don't require a fitting procedure.
A mouthguard that doesn't fit correctly, is the equivalent of a loose knee or shoulder pad. It may appear that you're protected, but they won't necessarily do the job when it comes to protecting you, at the critical moment of impact.
How to care for your custom-fitted mouthguard
You’ve invested in your oral health by choosing a custom-fitted mouthguard. It’s best to care for it appropriately, to retain its shape and make it last 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 a good idea to rinse your mouthguard with mouthwash from time to time, as well as having it checked when you go to see your dentist at your regular check-up. By getting your dentist to check your mouthguard, they can ensure that it is still fitting correctly and doesn't need replacing.
How long will a mouthguard last?
Mouthguards tend to last longer with proper care. If the mouthguard is frequently used, it will naturally deteriorate quicker. For younger children whose mouths are still developing, and whose teeth may move as they grow, mouthguards may need to be replaced more frequently than adults.
It is important for adults and children to have their mouthguards checked by their dentists, during regular visits. Your dentist will ensure that it is still fitting properly and offers maximum protection for your teeth and jaw. With proper care, you can reduce the frequency in which your mouthguard requires replacing.
Disclaimer: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.