Physical activity is essential for your overall wellbeing, but the Australian Dental Association (ADA) warns that playing contact sports without sports mouthguards can harm your teeth, gums and jaw.
The ADA and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) have collaborated to make sports mouthguards mandatory for registered players during training and games for contact sports. These sports include hockey, wrestling, boxing, netball, martial arts, football, lacrosse and basketball.
If you are wondering, ‘do mouthguards protect teeth’? Here’s what you need to know.
Do Mouthguards Protect Teeth?
Sports account for more than 40% of all dental injuries in Australia, yet only 36% of participants wear mouthguards for protection. Dental injuries from a sporting impact can lead to long-term oral health problems, including nerve damage, tooth fractures, and knocked-out teeth.
Another common issue that can be prevented with mouthguards is enamel damage and erosion due to teeth grinding. Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw (bruxism) can put undue strain on your tooth structure, wearing away at the enamel, and leaving your teeth vulnerable to decay, chips, and cracks.
At night, wearing a mouthguard creates a barrier between your dental arches to ease pressure on your teeth and prevent friction from eroding your enamel.
People who suffer from sleep apnea can also benefit from wearing a mouthguard at night. Sleep apnea causes disrupted breathing patterns while sleeping, with many sufferers often ceasing to breathe completely for up to 10 seconds at a time.
When you stop breathing, your mouth often snaps shut, causing your teeth to collide, potentially causing chips or cracks.
Do Mouthguards Protect Teeth? Types of Facial Impacts
When participating in contact sports, there are three primary facial areas an athlete can experience facial and dental trauma. These injuries can result in significant time off from school and work due to complex dental treatments for your dental injuries.
Blow to the Jaw
A direct blow to the jaw usually comes from the side and can damage teeth, jawbones and the temporomandibular joints (TMJ).
Blow to the Mouth
This is the most common type of orofacial injury and can be an elbow, hockey stick, puck or hand. This type of impact usually results in harm to the lips, cheeks, teeth and gums.
Under the Chin
This type of impact occurs from an injury from below at an upward angle, typically from an elbow, head or shoulder. The force of this impact causes the lower jaw to slam into the upper jaw injuring the teeth, jawbones and TMJ.
Do Mouthguards Protect Teeth? Types of Protection
Sports mouthguards act as a shock absorber when there is an impact to the jaw, mouth or chin. Wearing a sports mouthguard during training and games helps prevent painful and disfiguring injuries.
- Protect against neck injuries
- Reduce concussion injury
- Protect against tooth fractures
- Prevent opposite teeth from contact
- Jaw Fractures
- Oral Injury
- TMJ Trauma
Properly fitting sports mouthguards are custom designed to fit the exact structure of an athlete’s mouth, so it protects the teeth and soft tissue when impact occurs.
A customised sports mouthguard also protects against trauma by absorbing the amount of shock to the TMJ as the lower and upper jaw collide when struck.
Do Mouthguards Protect Teeth? Types of Mouthguards
There are several types of mouthguards available depending on your level of activity, including:
Boil-and-bite sports mouthguards are generic devices that offer limited protection against sports-related dental trauma. The mouthguard is made from thermoplastic which softens when submerged in boiling water. You then place the device in your mouth and clench your teeth together to create an impression.
Although these mouthguards contour to the shape of your teeth, the shape of the mouthguard’s exterior means it can rub on the soft tissues inside your mouth, irritating your gums and contributing to mouth ulcers.
Custom Sports Mouthguards
Custom sports mouthguards are created by a dental laboratory from digital images and impressions taken at your dentist’s practice. They are made from a similar thermoplastic polymer to boil-and-bite mouthguards, but they are significantly thinner. This means they are more comfortable to wear and are less likely to interfere with speech and breathing while still offering ample shock-absorbing protection.
A night mouthguard also called an occlusal splint, is a device worn to protect your teeth from damage due to bruxism. These mouthguards look similar to clear aligner trays or retainers used for orthodontic issues.
These thin trays are moulded around your teeth and are worn on both the upper and lower dental arches to reduce the amount of grinding pressure transferred to the teeth and prevent strain on the jaw muscles, contributing to TMJ.
Available Dental Care is Your Partner in Health
If you live an active lifestyle or suffer from teeth grinding, you can protect your teeth from dental injuries with a custom mouthguard from Available Dental Care. Our practice offers state-of-the-art technology, allowing our dental team to craft long-lasting mouthguards that offer a precise fit.
Contact us on (02) 4062 8763 or via our online form to book your consultation for a custom mouthguard today.