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Why mouthguards are a must for children playing sport

Regardless of whether your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment or not, protecting the health of their teeth is paramount, which is why mouthguards are a must when it comes to playing sport.

Statistics indicate dental trauma is one of the most common sporting injuries, and a properly fitted mouthguard can help prevent injuries to the teeth from hits, knocks and falls.

So, what should you look for in a mouthguard and why are they so important?

Dental trauma statistics

Sports Medicine Australia notes dental trauma ranks among the 12 most common injuries incurred while playing sport.

For example, in Victoria between 2002 and 2004 alone, 2000 dental emergencies were treated in hospitals.

Meanwhile, dental injuries predominantly occur in people aged under 25 years of age (71 per cent) and it’s not just contact sports where they happen.

  • Approximately 44 per cent of the 2000 injuries mentioned above occurred during active recreation/leisure activities such as cycling, skateboarding and riding a scooter.
  • Between five per cent and 14 per cent were sustained during organised sports, including football, basketball, netball, cricket, hockey and soccer.
  • People with protrusive front teeth, inadequate lip coverage over their teeth or those undergoing orthodontic treatment are often at greater risk of dental injury.

Furthermore, the cost of treating a dental injury can be high, with health insurance company Bupa noting the average cost of dental trauma is $3695, while a more serious injury like a broken jaw is about $4151.

What sort of injuries are we talking?

Common sporting injuries include cuts to the gums, lips, teeth, tongue and face, along with chipped, broken and loosened teeth, teeth that are knocked out or in more extreme cases a broken jaw.

These injuries can be painful and require long-term treatment or expensive fixes like dental implants.

If your child is undergoing orthodontic treatment at the time of injury, it can also result in damage to the wires and brackets of braces.

Mouthguards a must

Sport and activity are essential to happy, healthy children. And just as they should have the right shoes, shin guards or even helmets when enjoying activity, mouthguards are also a must.

A properly fitted, appropriately designed mouthguard helps cushion the teeth against knocks and blows and helps alleviate cuts and grazes to the mouth.

In fact, mouthguards are now considered so important many sporting codes require their use. However, it’s not just contact sports where mouthguards play an important role.

With 44 per cent of sporting dental injuries incurred during leisure activities like cycling, scooter riding or skateboarding, mouthguards can be beneficial during any sporting activity where children are likely to experience a knock or a fall.

Meanwhile, the Australian Dental Association notes: “Even non-contact sports like cricket, basketball, netball, touch football, skateboarding and soccer, carry a real risk of accidental collision, and result in dental trauma”.

So which mouthguard is best? 

Types of mouthguards

There are generally three common types of mouthguards available – stock mouthguards which are available over the counter; boil and bite mouthguards, which are also commonly available from chemists and sporting stores; and custom-fitted mouthguards which are made for the individual by a dental professional.

The Australian Dental Association strongly recommends custom-fitted mouthguards above all others, and here’s an insight into why.

Stock mouthguards

Available over the counter from pharmacies and sporting stores, stock mouthguards are considered the most affordable option but also offer the least protection.

These standard mouthguards come in various sizes for the upper teeth but are not specifically tailored to the wearer’s jaw.

That means stock mouthguards can easily come loose, and can also be more uncomfortable to wear. Meanwhile, stock mouthguards can also affect the wearer’s ability to speak clearly.

Boil and bite

Also available from chemists and sporting retailers, boil and bite mouthguards are designed to offer a better fit than the stock option.

These appliances use a pre-formed mould that you heat with hot water and then bite down into to gain an impression of your teeth. Although these offer a better fit than stock mouthguards, they do not offer protection that is as good as a custom-fitted device and they tend to be more bulky.

Custom-fitted

Made by your dentist or orthodontist, custom-fitted mouthguards see your dental professional take a detailed impression or scan of your teeth and then tailor-make a device to suit using premium medical grade materials.

Not only is the appliance more likely to fit snugly over your teeth, it is designed to minimise the impact of knocks and blows, rubs less against the gums and cheeks and makes it easier for the wearer to speak clearly.

The ADA explains, although a custom-fitted mouthguard can be more expensive than a store-bought option, it is “far superior to an over-the-counter mouthguard because it’s specially designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, is resilient, balances your bite and allows speech and normal breathing”.

“If properly used, stored, and checked by your dentist every year, a custom-fitted mouthguard should last several seasons.”

Mouthguards and braces

If you are undergoing orthodontic treatment like braces a custom-fitted mouthguard is the go-to option. In this instance the mouthguard will be designed to fit snugly around the braces and teeth, and offer the best protection against injury.

About Norwest Orthodontics

Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.

We also have a suite of treatments available that include discreet, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

You can learn more about our services, or contact us here to make an appointment here.

Why mouthguards are a must for children playing sport

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