Many Australians have a passion for the sport, whether it’s playing footy or netball, skateboarding in a bowl, or cycling on a long, open road. There’s a thrill that appeals to sports lovers, but the spills can be devastating. Whether it’s a collision on the field, a tumble on a street or equipment failure – the risk of contact to the face and teeth is an ever-present danger. To minimise this risk, it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard.
A mouthguard is a thick, often spongy shield that fits over your teeth. Mouthguards are usually worn during sports and other activities that involve a high risk of impact to the face. They can be helpful outside of sports too.
An injury can result in a loss of one or more teeth, broken or chipped teeth, jaw fractures or injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth. Dental trauma can also include damage to the gums and lips.
According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), about one-third of traumatic injuries to teeth are sports-related. Sports Medicine Association Australia suggests that 50% of children experience some form of dental injury.
When there’s a direct impact on the lower part of your face, the force can travel through your jaw, teeth and even the upper part of your skull. This can increase the risk of injuries like front teeth fractures and even concussions. Blows to your lower jaw might cause the jaws to slam together and damage both rows of teeth. Mouth guards act as a buffer for these kinds of impact. The spongy material helps to absorb the shock and lessen the force applied to your teeth, jaws or skull.
Mouthguards should be worn during games and training. Basically, it’s best to wear a mouthguard any time there’s a risk of impact to your face. Sports Medicine Australia and the Australian Dental Association recommend that regardless of whether the sport you play is considered a ‘contact sport’ or not, you’re encouraged to wear a mouthguard any time you’re on the field1.
Constructed and fitted by a dental professional, a customised mouthguard provides the best protection for your teeth. The dentist takes an impression of your teeth and makes a plaster model to get the closest possible fit. The mouthguard needs to be at least 4mm thick, with a cushioning effect that provides protection against impact. It fits snugly so it’s still possible to talk – an important aspect during an intense match.
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