Wear a Mouthguard and Keep Your Teeth for Life

Wear a Mouthguard and Keep Your Teeth for Life
Children playing sports without mouthguards run a huge risk of traumatic facial injuries, according to the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch [ADAVB].

Research shows that in sports like football where mouthguards are worn, less than one per cent of the injuries were orofacial. In basketball, where mouthguards are not routinely worn, 34 per cent of the injuries are orofacial. [Flanders, Raymond A. DDS, Mohandas Bhat, DDS, The Incidence of Orofacial Injury in Sports, A Pilot Study in Illinois, JADA Vol. 25, April 1995; p.491-6]

President of the ADAVB, Dr. Vlad Hardi says, "There is a link between some sporting activities and dental trauma. While participating in sport is obviously a great way for children to have fun and keep fit, the ADAVB is concerned about the increase in preventable dental injuries."

The ADAVB is advocating the use of custom-fitted mouthguards to help keep dental injuries to a minimum, particularly in the case of any sport where there is a chance of a knock to the face.

It is estimated that mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football in the United States. [American Dental Association]

Dr. Hardi says, "Teeth are at risk of injury when playing sport, and this can result in long and expensive treatment. The ADAVB recommends the use of custom-made mouthguards which can reduce the risk of jaw fractures and concussion as the result of collision".

A correctly fitted mouthguard will protect teeth, stop biting onto the lips and cushion teeth to reduce the risk of concussion and jaw fracture.

Mouthguards can be bought from pharmacies, however, these mouthguards cannot take individual mouth size and teeth into account. They can be uncomfortable and offer limited protection, because they often have poor suction, and so fall out.

"By investing in a mouthguard custom-fitted by a dentist, children and sportspeople really do protect themselves from painful and costly dental injuries", say Dr. Hardi.

"A dentist can ensure that a mouthguard is much more comfortable, that it is easier to breathe and talk when wearing one, and that it offers better protection. Children are more likely to continue to wear a mouthguard, which does not irritate them or make it hard to breathe. A good fit is essential for the mouthguard to be effective."

However, if a child does suffer an injury, which results in the loss of a tooth, the ADAVB recommends the following procedures:
  • If it is clean, place it straight back in its socket;
  • If it is dirty, wash it in milk - if milk is not available, use water but only for a few seconds
  • Do not scrub the root surface and try not to touch the root. Having removed any debris, now try to replace the tooth in its socket
  • If you can't replace it, wrap the tooth in an airtight or cling wrap or store it in whole cold milk or saline solution
  • Most importantly, get your child and the tooth to a dentist immediately

Through an on-going education program with schools and sporting clubs, the ADAVB aims to significantly reduce the number of sporting injuries to children's teeth.
For more information visit: www.ada.org.au