Playing sport is part of a healthy lifestyle, but contact sports and some other activities can put your teeth at risk of injury, from chips and cracks to knocked-out teeth.
That's why it's important that kids and adults wear a mouthguard to lower the risk of injuries and needing expensive dental treatment. However, not all mouthguards offer the same level of protection.
To make sure you're giving your children's teeth the care they deserve, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) recommend talking to your dentist about fitting a custom mouthguard.
What are the different types of mouthguards?
A mouthguard is worn over the teeth during sports to help protect the teeth and jaws against injuries. These may be caused by impacts with balls and other sports equipment, collisions with other players or falling over.
Mouthguards should be worn during games and training for contact sports such as rugby, soccer and hockey, as well as other risky activities like skateboarding.
'Boil-and-bite' mouthguards are available from sports shops. When placed in warm water, these can conform to the shape of the wearer's teeth.
However, these mouthguards can sometimes be loose fitting and may cause issues with speech or breathing that could affect performance. There's also a minor risk of a loose mouthguard coming loose and getting trapped in the throat.
A custom mouthguard can be provided by a dentist. They'll take an impression of your child's teeth that's used to design their mouthguard, making sure of a perfect fit.
Custom-fitted mouthguards can feel more comfortable to wear and won't affect speech or breathing in the same way as a generic mouthguard. They can also offer more protection and are less likely to come loose.
Why is a custom mouthguard safer?
A custom mouthguard that's designed for your child's mouth can spread the impact of shocks more evenly than a boil-and-bite mouthguard. This lowers the risk of needing emergency dental care for chipped, cracked or knocked-out teeth, as well as jaw injuries.
These mouthguards are also less likely to cause breathing problems or affect your child's athletic performance. They're also less likely to come loose and obstruct the throat.
How to look after your sports mouthguard
Mouthguards need to be properly cared for to keep them in good working order and extend their lifespan. They should be rinsed after every use in cold water and kept out of sunlight, as this can cause them to warp. If your dentist provided a cast of your teeth, store the mouthguard over this to help preserve its shape.
Custom mouthguards hold their shape for longer before they need to be replaced. Your child should bring their mouthguard along on every dental visit so their dentist can check its condition or take new measurements to make a replacement.
Find out more about mouthguards in Sydney CBD
If you or your child need a sports mouthguard, talk to our dentists in Sydney CBD. We'll give you all the information you need to decide if a custom-fitted mouthguard is the best option.
Australian Dental Association. Mouthguards [Online] 2016 [Accessed September 2019] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Teens-12-17/Mouthguards
Australian Dental Association. Play it Safe: Wear a mouthguard [Online] 2016 [Accessed September 2019] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/getattachment/Your-Dental-Health/Resources-for-Professionals/Resources-for-Teens-12-17/Play-it-safe-wear-a-mouthguard/Play-it-safe,-wear-a-mouthguard.pdf.aspx