Are Sports Mouthguards Necessary?
In short, yes. Mouthguards play a crucial role in preventing some of the most common dental injuries including broken jaws, fractured teeth, cut lips and tongues and tooth loss. This week, we take a look at why mouthguards are so important to wear during organised sports.
How do they work?
Mouthguards primarily work by absorbing and distributing the energy of a blow. Their thickness also helps cushion impacts which slam the teeth together, protect the soft tissue from being cut or bruised by the teeth or dental braces. Some studies also suggest that wearing a mouthguard can reduce incidence or severity of a concussion.
Where do I get them?
$10 will get you a ‘boil and fit’ mouthguard over the counter from most chemists. However, these cheap mouthguards tend to fit poorly, are uncomfortable to wear, make speech, breathing and swallowing difficult, can obstruct the airway of an unconscious athlete, and won’t provide adequate protection from dental trauma. We recommend getting a custom fitted mouthguard from a dentist as these are far superior to over the counter products. Designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, a custom fitted guard will stay firmly in place, balances your bite, provides proper protection and allows the wearer to breathe and talk comfortably.
When should they be worn?
Most contact sports like hockey, rugby and of course boxing require all participants to wear a mouthguard but there are a lot of non-contact sports such as netball, soccer, cricket, cycling, gymnastics, skateboarding and basketball have occasional collisions which can result in dental trauma. In fact, one study found that incidences of dental trauma were twice as high in so called ‘non-contact’ sports such as basketball and soccer which do not require a mouthguard when compared with contact sports where they are obligatory.
What kind of injuries do mouthguards prevent?
In addition to cuts to the soft tissue and jaw related injury, are three main types of injuries which can be caused by dental trauma. These are:
Fractures: Where the tooth is broken, fractured at the root, or chipped
Avulsion: Where the entire tooth including the root is knocked out
Luxation: Where the tooth remains in the socket but is displaced. This might mean it’s pushed back or forward, or has been pulled down/pushed up and appears longer or shorter than the other teeth
If an athlete suffers any of these injuries, transport them to a dentist immediately. The best outcomes are achieved if the patient is treated by a dentist within two hours of the injury occurring.