Protecting the mouth from dental trauma

24 March, 2011

Don't hit the field without a mouthguard this footy season, advises Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV). Every year, players are treated for dental trauma that could have been prevented by wearing this basic piece of safety gear.

Principal Oral Health Advisor at The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne, Professor Mike Morgan, advises, "A mouthguard is an essential piece of safety gear for anyone who plays contact sport. Players who chose not to wear a protective mouthguard are more susceptible to concussion and dental trauma."

Dental trauma includes damage to the gums, lips and teeth as well as tooth fractures, jaw fractures and loss of teeth.

"Most footy fans remember Hawthorn's Lance Franklin losing a tooth, root and all, after a bump with St Kilda opponent Zac Dawson in 2009. Franklin's injury could have been avoided, or its severity substantially reduced, had he been wearing a mouthguard," adds Professor Morgan.

Australian research shows that sports injuries account for approximately one-third of traumatic injuries to teeth. These injuries can lead to potentially extensive and costly dental treatment.

DHSV recommends custom-fitted mouthguards over the 'boil and bite' variety as these provide the most effective protection. Most private dentists are able to provide custom-fitted mouthguards. Following a brief dental appointment, the mouthguard is normally available for collection within a few days.

A mouthguard should fit snugly but still be comfortable. It should be odourless and tasteless and allow the wearer to speak without much discomfort as well as breathe and swallow normally.

It is also important that a mouthguard is at least 4mm thick to provide protection against impact.

Source: Dental Health Services Victoria