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Sports Dentistry

sports dentistry

Sports Dentistry is the treatment and prevention of oral/facial athletic injuries and related oral diseases and manifestations.

Sports Injury Statistics in Victoria

The Sports Injury Prevention Taskforce March 2013 report revealed the following statistics (2009 data)

Over 30,000 Victorians sought hospital treatment for sports-related injury

– 10,000 of these cases required hospitalisation.

– The direct total hospital cost was $51.8 million.

This information is based on limited hospital data and is believed to only represent a third of all direct medical costs linked to sports injury in Victoria.

Anyone who participates in a sport that carries a risk of contact to the face should wear a mouthguard. This includes obvious sports such as football, boxing and rugby, and also collision sports where unexpected contact often happens. These include basketball, hockey, water polo, lacrosse, netball, baseball, softball, squash, soccer, BMX bike riding, horse riding, skateboarding, in-line skating, trampolining, cricket (wicket keeping or batting without a helmet), water skiing and snow ski racing.

Why do you need a mouthguard?

A mouthguard helps absorb the shock experienced by a blow to the face, which might otherwise result in an injury to the mouth or jaw. A heavy collision can result in chipped or broken teeth, internal damage to a tooth, tooth loss, injuries to the soft tissue of the mouth, and, in severe cases, concussion or a broken jaw. Injuries like these can lead to long and potentially expensive treatment to restore teeth and the mouth back to normal function and appearance.

Types of Mouthguards

A mouthguard is a protective device usually worn on the upper jaw only to reduce injuries to the teeth, jaws and associated soft tissues. Types of mouthguards include:

Custom-made mouthguard

Custom-made mouthguards are formed on a cast of the upper jaw, sometimes in conjunction with a cast of the lower jaw, in order to obtain even occlusal contact, and they are produced using materials appropriate to the end purpose of the mouthguards.

Bimaxillary mouthguards

Bimaxillary mouthguards are worn on the upper and lower jaws with a passage for breathing in the anterior. This type of mouthguard could be considered for players in boxing, martial arts and contact sports who desire a different type of protection. They require a period of adaptation in order to be tolerated.

Laminated mouthguard

This type of mouthguard offers flexibility in design and construction. Blanks of different thicknesses can be laminated together in order to increase protection.

Mouth-formed mouthguard

Also known as a ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguard, this type is purchased ‘over-the-counter’ from outlets such as sports shops. It is softened in hot water and then formed in the mouth by finger, tongue and biting pressure. Such mouthguards fit poorly, are difficult to wear, provide poor protection, may be dislodged during use with a
consequential risk of airway obstruction and are therefore not recommended. Mouth-formed ‘shell-liner’ guards, which have a rigid outer layer and a soft thermoplastic inner layer, are also available. Shell-liner guards are also not recommended as the hard outer layer may amplify the impact force and cause injury.

Stock mouthguard

A stock mouthguard consists of a curved trough of plastics or rubber and is worn without modification or adaptation, i.e. an “off-the-shelf’ mouthguard. Such mouthguards also fit poorly, are difficult to wear, provide poor protection, may be dislodged during use with a consequential risk of airway obstruction and are therefore not recommended

Other Mouthguard Tips:

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends:
a) that only a professionally custom-fitted mouthguard should be worn.
b) Check your mouthguard every 12 months for optimal fit and protection.
c) Keep your mouthguard clean and store it in a rigid container, away from heat to ensure it maintains its shape