Mouthguards are protective devices for the mouth that cover the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury risks from accidental impacts. Essential in contact sports like boxing, football, and rugby, or any activity with potential mouth injury, they are vital in safeguarding against significant dental traumas. For those seeking a Perth dentist knowledgeable in preventative measures, Acts Dental Care recommends using mouthguards. Beyond sports, they can also assist in treating conditions such as bruxism and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
There are three main types of mouthguards:
Stock mouthguards are preformed and ready to wear. However, they often don’t fit very well and can be bulky, making them less comfortable and effective than other types.
Boil and bite mouthguards are made from thermoplastic material. They are placed in hot water to soften, then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure. The boil and bite mouthguard is also a common type of sports mouthguard. These guards are often made of cheap rubbers and are not expensive. While they may not be as comfortable or offer the same level of protection as a custom-fitted mouthguard, they are more comfortable and effective than stock mouthguards. They are often favoured due to their balance between cost and fit.
Custom-fitted mouthguards offer the best protection and comfort because they are made to fit the exact contours of an individual’s mouth. These are custom-made by dental professionals, following internationally recognised guidelines for dental trauma prevention. These guidelines, endorsed by various dental associations worldwide, including the Australian Dental Association, ensure that mouthguards offer the highest protection against dental injuries. That is how a custom-fitted mouthguard works to its fullest potential.
Mouthguards are often made from a material called ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), which is a type of plastic that’s known for its toughness and flexibility. They come in multiple colours and should be stored in a protective case away from direct sunlight.
Anyone participating in contact sports, such as rugby, soccer, martial arts, basketball, or hockey, needs a mouthguard. It’s not just limited to professional sports; recreational activities like touch football can also lead to dental trauma. Even non-contact sports like cricket, netball, and gymnastics can benefit from a mouthguard due to the risk of accidental collisions.
In many sports, including rugby league, rugby union, boxing, soccer, and football, basketball, mouthguards play a crucial role. They reduce the risk of serious sporting injuries such as knocked-out teeth, jaw injuries, broken jaws, and cut lips. These protective pieces are specially designed to absorb and distribute the forces of impact encountered in these contact sports. Therefore serious dental injury can be significantly mitigated.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) strongly supports using mouthguards in sports. They have endorsed a policy titled “No Mouthguard, No Play,” jointly with Sports Medicine Australia. This policy encourages all sports clubs to commit to reducing the incidence of dental trauma from playing sports.
The Australian Dental Association points out that thousands of people are treated for dental injuries each year that could have been avoided by wearing a protective, custom-fitted mouthguard. Such a mouthguard can help absorb and spread the impact of a blow to the face, reducing the risk of injuries to the mouth or jaw. Dental injuries can result in time off school or work, be painful and disfiguring, and involve lengthy and complex dental treatment. The Australian Dental Association emphasises that the cost of a dental injury far exceeds the cost of a mouthguard.
The lifespan of a mouthguard can vary based on several factors, including how often it’s used, if the wearer grinds their teeth, and how well it’s cared for. Additionally, any structural changes in the mouth, such as those caused by dental procedures, orthodontic treatment, or natural growth (as in the case of children and teenagers), will necessitate the replacement of the mouthguard to ensure it still fits correctly.
A custom-fitted mouthguard is generally the most effective because it provides a comfortable fit and superior protection.
Custom mouthguards involve the expertise of dental professionals. Dentists or orthodontists take a detailed impression of the individual’s teeth and oral structure. This mould is then sent to a dental laboratory where skilled technicians use it to craft a mouthguard that fits perfectly. This personalised fit increases comfort and optimises protection, reducing the risk of injuries such as tooth fractures, dislocations, and lacerations to the lips and gums.
Sports mouthguards are designed to protect the mouth from impacts during sport, while dental mouthguards, such as those used for treating bruxism, are designed to protect the teeth from grinding or clenching.
Mouthguards are typically not intended for all-day wear. While some people wear them during the day to prevent teeth grinding (bruxism), they’re more commonly worn at night. Extended use can lead to problems such as difficulty speaking and potentially developing bad breath due to a dry mouth.
You can clean a mouthguard at home using a soft-bristle toothbrush, liquid soap, dishwasher liquid, or an over-the-counter nonabrasive denture cleaner. It’s important to rinse your mouthguard in cold water, apply a small amount of toothpaste, gently brush, rinse off the toothpaste, and let it dry. Using an OTC denture cleaner usually involves dissolving a tablet or powder in warm water and soaking your mouthguard for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing and drying. Be sure to clean your mouthguard’s case, and allow both the mouthguard and case to air dry before storing.
You can and should wear a mouthguard if you have braces, especially if you’re participating in sports or activities with a risk of injury to your mouth. Mouthguards protect your teeth and the soft tissue inside your mouth from potential injury caused by the braces.
However, you may need a particular type of mouthguard designed for braces, often larger and made from a more flexible material to accommodate the braces. It’s crucial to ensure the mouthguard fits correctly over your braces, providing adequate protection without causing discomfort or impeding your ability to breathe or speak.
If your mouthguard is uncomfortable, it might be due to a poor fit, common with over-the-counter models. In such cases, investing in a custom night guard is advisable. If you’ve recently started wearing a mouthguard, minor discomfort and irritation might be experienced until your mouth gets accustomed to the device. If the discomfort persists or worsens, consult your dentist.
The cost of mouthguards can vary depending on several factors, such as the specific type of mouthguard, the dental practice or provider, and the location. In Perth, standard mouthguards, like stock or boil-and-bite types, can be pretty affordable, starting from around $20 AUD. On the other hand, a custom mouthguard, made to fit the exact contours of a person’s mouth, is more expensive. The average price for a custom mouthguard in Perth is approximately $200 AUD. It’s important to note that the quality of the mouthguard plays a crucial role in its effectiveness and durability; thus, it’s worth considering when looking at the price. We are part of the Bupa member’s first platinum and HCF “More for Teeth” networks where members are generally eligible for one fully covered mouth guard per year when visiting preferred provide dental practices depending on their level of cover.
From routine check-ups to crafting your new mouthguard, experienced dentists in Acts Dental ensure your teeth are guarded against accidental collisions and everyday wear and tear. Let Acts Dental become your partner in oral health and safety. Contact us by phone number (08) 9474 5083.