Sport is an important part of the Australian lifestyle, especially here in the northern beaches, however when playing sport you are at risk of dental injuries. As a result it is important to protect yourself from injuries and keep your smile healthy and bright. Here at Freshwater Dental we can help keep you protected with a custom fit mouthguard.
Why is a mouthguard important?
While we all know that we should be wearing a mouthguard while wearing sport, many of us don’t. There are several reasons why people don’t wear mouthguards. For some it is due to discomfort or difficulty when breathing or talking, whereas for others (especially teenagers) it is due to embarrassment and peer pressure when no one else is wearing one. For many it is because they don’t know which activities require a mouthguard. When playing sport you are at a higher risk of receiving a blow to the mouth or jaw. This could cause injuries to your lips, gums, cheeks, teeth and jaw. Many of these injuries could be avoided by wearing a mouthguard. A mouthguard helps to absorb the shock that would normally be absorbed by your teeth and gums. By wearing a mouthguard you can help protect yourself from a number of injuries including:
- Tooth fractures
- Tooth displacement or being knocked out
- Soft tissue damage (cuts to tongue, lips and cheeks)
- Jaw fractures.
When to wear a mouthguard
While a number of high contact sports like rugby and ice hockey enforce all players to wear a mouthguard there are many sports that don’t. It is recommended that you wear a mouthguard whenever you are playing a high, limited or low contact sport where you are at risk of being hit or falling over. This includes sports like cricket, netball, basketball and gymnastics. It is also suggested that you wear one when participating in a risky recreational activity like skateboarding as your teeth are still at risk. While mouthguards are not mandatory in a large number of sports it is better to be safe and avoid the risk of serious dental trauma.
Why visit your dentist for a mouthguard.
At your local sporting goods store or pharmacy you are bound to find a large range of mouthguards. These mouthguards will either be of the ready-to-wear or boil and bite variety. While the ready-to-wear ‘stock’ mouthguards are inexpensive they also provide very little protection due to them being unable to be fitted to the mouth. As a result they can be quite bulky and are likely to fall out or make talking and breathing difficult. In comparison boil and bite mouthguards provide more protection as they can be fitted. They are made from a thermoplastic material and are fitted by softening them in hot water and biting into them. While they provide more protection that the stock mouthguards, they are still at risk of not being fitted correctly or being bulky and falling out.
In order to ensure the best protection it is recommended that you visit your dentist for a custom fit mouthguard. These mouthguards are individually made for each patient ensuring that they are a proper fit, are comfortable and do not negatively impact talking or breathing. A custom fit mouthguard can take up to two weeks to be created as it is made in a lab based off an impression of your teeth.
Looking after your mouthguard.
Custom fit mouthguards will only be able to protect your teeth if they are looked after correctly. To maintain the longevity of your mouthguard it is important to rinse with cold water after each wear and occasionally softly brush it with your toothbrush (this will help remove any lingering germs). Do not wash it in hot water or leave it in the sun as this may change the shape of the mouthguard making it unusable. When not in use, keep your mouthguard in a hard, well ventilated container and do not leave it laying around, especially if you have a dog! We have had many patients who have had to come in to be refitted for a mouthguard as their dog thought that it was a nice chew toy.
It is also a good idea for you to bring your mouthguard along to all dental appointments as your dentist will be able to assess it for any signs of wear and tear and also make sure that it is still fitting correctly.
If you don’t have a custom fit mouthguard please call Freshwater Dental to book an appointment.