WHY WEAR A MOUTHGUARD
Sporting accidents are one of the most common causes of dental injury. Every year thousands of people, including children, are treated for dental injuries that could have been avoided or minimised by wearing a protective, custom-fitted mouthguard.
Why do you need a mouthguard?
Damaged or knocked out teeth, broken jaws and cut lips can be sustained when playing sport. Wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard helps to absorb and spread the impact of a blow to your face, which might otherwise result in an injury to your mouth or jaw.
Dental injuries can result in time off school or work to recover, can be painful and disfiguring, and may involve lengthy and complex dental treatment. The cost of an injury to your teeth or jaw far exceeds the cost of a custom-fitted mouthguard.
When should I wear a mouthguard?
Custom-fitted mouthguards should be worn whilst playing and training for any sport where there is a possibility of contact to the face. These sports can include hockey, netball, baseball, basketball and even skateboarding and skiing. Just like having the correct shoes and sporting equipment, all people playing these sports need to wear a custom-fitted mouthguard.
Other mouthguard tips:
- The Australian Dental Association strongly recommends investing in a custom-fitted mouthguard from your dentist.
- Have your mouthguard checked at your regular dental check-up to make sure it fits correctly and offers maximum protection.
- Keep your mouthguard clean and store it in a rigid container, away from heat to ensure it maintains its shape.
Choosing a mouthguard
There are many types of mouthguards available in Australia, ranging from cheap, over-the-counter types to professionally custom-fitted mouthguards.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) strongly recommends wearing a custom-fitted mouthguard to ensure maximum protection. These are available from your dentist.
Over-the-counter mouthguards do not provide enough protection against injuries to your teeth, mouth or jaw. Dental injuries can be very costly, so it is worthwhile investing in a custom-fitted mouthguard.
Custom-fitted mouthguards are made by your dentist, who takes an impression and creates a plaster model of your teeth. Custom-fitting allows your dentist to accurately assess your mouth and provide the best fitting mouthguard that is most appropriate for you.
Custom-fitted mouthguards provide a better fit than other varieties, as they are made to suit your individual needs.
When made by your dentist, a custom-fitted mouthguard is:
- Allows you to speak clearly
- Won’t shift or fall out
- Won’t restrict your breathing
Over-the-counter (boil and bite) mouthguards
Over-the-counter mouthguards are far less effective than those that are custom-fitted. These mouthguards include stock mouthguards that do not require fitting, and mouthguards that can be placed in hot water and then self-fitted by biting into the mould.
Dealing with accidents
It is very important to wear a custom-fitted mouthguard when training and playing contact sport to help protect you against painful and expensive injuries to your teeth and mouth. This page explains what to do if a tooth accidently gets damaged or knocked out.
If a tooth is cracked or chipped, see a dentist as soon as possible. Place any broken pieces of tooth in a small amount of milk, or plastic wrap if milk is unavailable, and take them to the dentist with you.
If a primary (baby) tooth is knocked out, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Do not attempt to put the tooth back in its socket. This may cause damage to the permanent tooth or lead to infection.
- See a dentist straight away to check if any pieces of tooth remain in the socket and to make sure no other damage has been done.
- Keep out of direct sunlight - mouthguards will change shape in high temperatures.
- To control bleeding, apply pressure directly to the injured area with a clean cloth. To minimise swelling, an ice pack or cold compress can be applied to the site of the injury.
- Locate the tooth and handle it gently.
- If soiled, rinse the entire tooth in milk or, very quickly, in water to clean it.
- Place the tooth back in the socket, making sure it is facing the right way around. It is important to replace the tooth within 5-10 minutes of the tooth being knocked out.
- Ask the patient to hold the tooth in place by biting gently into a soft cloth. If the patient has a mouthguard but wasn’t wearing it at the time of the accident, this can also be used to hold the tooth in place. Otherwise, the person providing first aid can help keep the tooth in place by covering the damaged tooth and the teeth on either side with aluminium foil.
- If it is difficult to put the tooth back in the socket, keep it moist by putting it in a small amount of milk or sealing it in plastic wrap.
- If in doubt about whether the tooth is primary or secondary, put it back in its socket. The risk of permanent damage to an adult tooth not replaced is greater than the damage caused by a baby tooth being put back in.
- Immediately seek dental treatment for any damaged teeth - time is critical to prevent permanent damage.
- Do not handle the root of the tooth.
- Do not scrape or rub the surface of the tooth.
- Do not let the tooth dry out – keep it moist at all times.
- Do not put the tooth in ice or hot water.
- Avoid rinsing or storing the tooth in water for more than one or two seconds.
- Do not remove any soft tissue fragments from the tooth.