Mouthgaurds, dental trauma, dental sports injuries

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Toothcare Mouthguards

A mouthguard is a removable rubber or polyvinyl shield worn over your teeth, most commonly the upper teeth, to protect the teeth and jaws from traumatic injury during sporting activities

There are two basic types of mouthguards available:

(1) The custom fitted mouthguard is available from your dentist. This mouthguard is constructed directly from a mould taken of your teeth in the dental surgery and fits tightly and comfortably over your teeth. This type of mouthguard is the type recommended by the dental profession and is the most effective in preventing injuries to the teeth and jaws.

(2) The "do it yourself" mouthguard, available at many pharmacies are usually poorly fitting and uncomfortable to wear. Although these might suffice for moment (they can be better than nothing) but because of the comparative lack of protection and the poor fit, Dr Telford encourages the use of a custom-fitted mouthguard.

Mouthguards should be worn during any sport where there is the chance of a knock to the face.

There are three types of sport when we consider the chance of injury:

1. Contact sports where contact is part of the game. These include football, rugby, martial arts and boxing. The mouthguard should be compulsory.

2. Collision sports where contact often happens but it is not expected or allowed. These include basketball, hockey, water polo, lacrosse, netball, baseball, softball, squash, soccer, BMX bike riding, horseriding, skateboarding, in-line skating, trampolining, cricket (wicket keeping or batting without a helmet), water skiing and snow ski racing. A mouthguard is highly recommended.

3. Non-contact sports where contact is a rare occurrence. These include such sports as tennis where a mouthguard is not needed.

Mouthguards should be worn during all competitions as well as during training sessions, as this is when many injuries occur. Further wearing during training makes th wearing sensation become like `second nature' when on the sports field.  This should be stressed to children in junior teams. One should feel 'undressed' when on the field without a mouthgaurd.

After use, mouthguards should be rinsed in cold, soapy water. They can be disinfected occasionally with a mild disinfectant solution or mouth rinse.

A mouthguard should be stored clean and dry in a plastic container ready for its next use. As mouthguards can distort under higher temperatures, they should be kept in a cool place, not in the back of a hot car on a sunny day.

For adults, a mouthguard can last several years depending on the frequency of use. If major changes occur to the teeth, such as large restorations or loss of teeth, the mouthguard may not fit as well as originally and may need to be replaced. If the mouthguard material has been bitten through during use it should also be replaced.

For children, changes will occur to their mouth due to growth, the loss of deciduous teeth, or the eruption of the adult teeth, then their mouthguard may need to be changed annually or even more frequently. Remember, a poorly fitting mouthguard may be providing little protection and is less likely to be worn by children because they are uncomfortable.


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