Preventing Injuries – Mouth Guards

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  • Wear a professionally fitted mouthguard when you are playing and training for any sport where there is a risk of mouth injury
  • You will need to wear a full-faced helmet or face guard for some sports and recreational activities
  • Provide a safe environment for your child, in the home and in the playground
  • Adult supervision helps to prevent childhood injuries

The leading causes of oral and head injuries are:

  • sports
  • assault
  • falls
  • motor vehicle crashes

Injury to the face that results in fractured, displaced, or lost teeth can have significant negative impact on the function, appearance and psychology of children.

Sports injuries occur in contact sports, team sports and in individual activities (bicycle riding, roller skating/blading, swimming, squash, tennis and gymnastics).  Dental injuries are the most common type of injury to the face and mouth that are received while playing sport, with the upper front teeth being the most affected.

playPlay is central to children’s development socially and physically and while playing on playground equipment is enjoyed by children, it can be dangerous.  Children should be taught to play safely and be supervised by a responsible adult.

Home is a place for children to explore, to have adventures and to play. Unfortunately, the home is also the most common place for young children to be injured. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of injury is to make some physical changes to the house: either remove something that is potentially dangerous, or add a safety product.

The use of mouthguards during sport helps protect the mouth. Mouthguards will only be effective if they are fitted properly and worn properly.  The most effective mouthguards are those made by a dentist.  Although ready made ones can be bought at sport shops, they are not advisable as they don’t fit or protect the teeth as well.


Why are mouthguards necessary?

Every year thousands of children are treated for dental injuries which could have been avoided or minimised by wearing a protective custom-fitted mouthguard. Sporting accidents are one of the most common causes of dental injury. Players of all ages involved in sports and activities where they are at a risk of contact to the face should protect their teeth with a properly fitted mouthguard.  A mouthguard helps to absorb the impact from a blow to the face.

There are various types of mouthguards from the “over – the – counter” ones to “custom – fitted” mouthguards. Once the permanent teeth are erupted, it is strongly recommended wearing the custom fitted mouthguard from your dentist.

When should I wear a mouthguard?
Mouthguards should be worn whilst playing and training for any sport that could involve contact to the face. It is essential not only to wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports such as rugby or football, but also while playing sports where there is a chance of being hit in the jaw or head. Such sports include hockey, netball, baseball, basketball and even skateboarding and skiing.

mouthguardCustom-fitted mouthguards.
The dentist will take an impression and make a mould of your teeth. The dentist can assess the mouth and ensure that the mouthguard correctly fits and is the most appropriate to the sport. These mouthguards provide a better fit than those bought over the counter. They are also more comfortable, and provide the maximum resistance against being dislodged.

Over-the-counter (boil and bite) mouthguards.
These mouthguards are significantly less effective than custom-fitted mouthguards. Over-the-counter mouthguards can include stock mouthguards that do not require fitting and mouthguards that are self-fitting using hot water.  However these types do not fit as well, are less comfortable and are less effective than the custom-made mouthguards.  They may act as an interim solution but should not be used long-term.

How long will my mouthguard last?
Your mouthguard should be reviewed by a dentist every year to ensure it continues to fit correctly. You may need a replacement if new adult teeth have come through or the mouthguard has sustained a serious blow, which may have damaged it.  Care must be taken not to inadvertently wash it in a machine due to the fact the mouthguard will distort.

How do I care for my mouthguard?

Tips for caring for your mouthguard include:

  • Rinse in cold water after use
  • Store in a well ventilated plastic container
  • Keep out of direct sunlight – mouthguards will distort in high temperatures so don’t leave them in the car
  • Occasionally rinse your mouthguard in a mouthwash

Show your mouthguard to your dentist at your regular check up and replace if damaged.

Last updated: March 19, 2014

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