Reasons why you Should Wear a Mouthguard while Playing Contact Sports27 July 2022
If you play contact sports, watch them or are a parent to a child that plays contact sports then you know the likelihood of injuries is substantially higher than those of non-contact sports. Whilst the number of children engaging in sports fluctuates over 91% year on year, and a study by Statista finding that 40.7% of men, and 31.7% of women play sports on a weekly basis it is more important than ever for children and adults to be wearing mouthguards to prevent dental injuries when playing contact sports.
So why should you wear a mouthguard?
Many studies have been conducted on the correlation between contact sports and dental emergencies. It is estimated that 5 million teeth are lost per year due to accidents in contact sports, and that 600,000 visits to A&E each year are due to sports related dental injuries.
Wearing a mouthguard is so integral to protecting the structure of your teeth as well as preventing tooth loss. In fact there are so many types of dental injuries that occur, that they have had to be divided into three categories. Let’s have a look.
Fractures: This typically involves root fractures, broken or chipped teeth.
Avulsions: The entire tooth including the root is knocked out.
Luxations: The tooth is still in the socket but has been knocked out of position.
These injuries can sound particularly scary, especially if your child plays contact sports but you need not fear, help is at hand. By wearing a mouthguard you or your loved ones can minimise the risk of dental injuries.
So what sports are prone to dental emergencies?
Well in short, all of them. However due to sporting body rules there are some sports that are more susceptible to this happening, which include but are not limited to:
- Martial Arts, particularly Kickboxing
Other sports where there is still a risk of dental injuries include acrobatics/gymnastics, football, skateboarding, skiing, surfing, volleyball and weightlifting. Even if your chosen sport does not feature on this list, purchasing a mouthguard is always a safe bet and means if you ever choose to set aside your chosen sport, it will not be due to dental trauma.
So which mouthguard do I choose?
Designed from plastic or laminate, all mouthguards to an extent will protect your mouth, gums, cheeks and jaw. Many sports shops and outlets will sell readymade or ‘stock’ mouthguards which you can find specific to each sport. There is also mouth formed or ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards you can purchase from sports shops. But when it comes to the very best, we recommend you have custom made mouthguards created for you by your dentist! Although all mouthguards will provide a certain level of protection against dental injuries, dentist made mouthguards are better fitting, provide better protection for teeth, and will feel more comfortable in the mouth than shop-based mouthguards. Whichever type of mouthguard you opt for, it’s important to consider the following points;
- Ensure the mouthguard fits properly, is comfortable and is resistant to tearing.
- A mouthguard should not restrict your ability to breathe.
- The mouthguard should be easy to clean, to prevent exposing your mouth back into bacteria accumulated from the game.
- Remember that damaged, chipped or broken teeth do not grow back. A more expensive mouthguard is likely to be cheaper than major restorative dental work.
How do I care for my mouthguard?
There are a few easy steps to ensure you get the most out of your mouthguard and that it is hygienic for use every time. You can do this by:
- Rinsing with cold water before and after use
- Cleaning with a toothbrush and toothpaste before and after use
- Soak it approved dental cleaning solutions before rinsing with water
- Keep it securely in a container to prevent external damage
- Regularly check for cracks or signs that it may not be functioning efficiently.
A mouthguard can seem like an unnecessary item and/or expense, but what price can you really put on having all of your natural teeth?