Whether it’s rugby, netball, hockey or basketball, many of us love our sports. However, even low-impact activities carry a risk of dental trauma or injuries to the mouth.
Your teeth might not be the first thought when you’re about to jump into a game of footy, but sports play a big part in dental injuries. According to the Australian Dental Association, sports-related accidents account for almost one-third of traumatic injuries to the teeth.
One of your best defences against these injuries will be wearing a mouthguard. Mouthguards help to absorb dental or facial trauma and cushion the blow of impact, reducing your risk of knocking out or breaking a tooth, injuries to your tongue or cheeks and even damage to your jaw.
On this page
- Should I wear a mouthguard?
- Types of mouthguards
- Mouthguards for kids
- Caring for a mouthguard
Should I wear a mouthguard?
If any of your regular sports involve a risk that you’ll be hit in the face, you should consider a mouthguard.
It’s strongly recommended that you wear a mouthguard for sports that involve contact to the face, like rugby or boxing. Other sports don’t allow or expect hits to the face, but they can be a common occurrence anyway; basketball, softball, polo, football horseback riding and cricket are all examples of these types of sports.
Types of mouthguards
There are two popular types of mouthguards:
- Custom-fitted: your dentist can fit you with a custom mouthguard, which involves taking an impression of your teeth to help them create a plaster model to ensure a snug fit. These mouthguards tend to be thick enough to cushion any hits to your mouth or jaw but fit tightly enough to allow you to talk normally.
- Boil-and-bite: you can fit these mouthguards yourself, putting them in hot water and then biting into the mouthguard in order to make it take the shape of your teeth. This is a less precise method and boil-and-bite mouthguards aren’t as effective as custom ones. However, if your only option is boil-and-bite, then it might be better than nothing.
Mouthguards for kids
Sports Medicine Australia says that every year, thousands of people are treated for dental injuries that could have been avoided by wearing a protective, custom fitted mouthguard. If your child wears a custom-fitted mouthguard, that’s great! Just remember to have the mouthguard periodically checked by their dentist – children’s mouths and teeth grow and change rapidly, so you’ll want to make sure the mouthguard continues to be a proper fit while their teeth are developing.
Caring for a mouthguard
Rinse your mouthguard with warm water and soap, allowing it to air dry afterward. You can also use a mouthwash to clean it.
When you aren’t wearing it, store it in a plastic container with vents that allow air circulation. Your dentist can provide one of these containers or direct you to the best place to find one. Be sure to keep the mouthguard in a cool area since extreme temperatures can warp its shape and make it less effective.