Mouthguards are extremely effective in preventing facial injury in contact and non-contact sports. 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.
When should I wear a mouthguard?
Custom-fitted mouth guards should be worn whilst playing and training for any sport where there is a possibility of contact to the face. Mouth guards have become a standard in many sports. In addition to Australian rules football many other Australian sports require mouth guards in field hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, basketball, bicycling, boxing, equestrian, skating, skateboarding, martial arts, rugby, skiing, skydiving, soccer, softball, squash, surfing, volleyball, and water polo. Just like having the correct shoes and sporting equipment, all people playing these sports need to wear a 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.
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.
How long will my mouthguard last?
It’s important that you have your mouthguard assessed by your dentist at your regular dental check-up to ensure it still fits correctly for maximum protection. You may need a replacement if your new, secondary adult teeth have come through or if your mouthguard has been damaged.
In a growing child a new mouthguard should be made every year because there is usually significant change in the shape of the jaw and teeth over that time. Older teenagers and adults are usually able to keep their mouthguards for much longer
How do I care for my mouthguard?
- Rinse in cold water after use
- Store in a rigid plastic container
- Keep out of direct sunlight – mouthguards will change shape in high temperatures
- Occasionally rinse your mouthguard in a mouthwash
- Have your mouthguard assessed by your dentist at your regular dental check-up
- Replace your mouthguard if it gets damaged
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.