More than 40 sports have been identified where wearing a mouthguard would provide protection, and reduce the severity of dental injuries.
The Australian Dental Association recommends only professionally made mouthguards be used. This means the mouthguard must be custom-made for each person. It should also be used at training, and checked each year by your dentist to make sure it retains its original fit, comfort and protective ability.
Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.
If you grind your teeth at night, a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance — called a nocturnal bite plate or bite splint — may be created to prevent tooth damage.
Custom-made mouthguards can be made by your dentist. A mould or impression is taken of your teeth, which is then used to construct a plaster model. The mouthguard is then moulded over this model.
There have been rapid advances in mouthguard design and technology in the last 10 years. The use of plastics which can be exposed to high temperatures and pressures has led to a new generation of professionally made mouthguards.
The custom-made mouthguard is built in layers to ensure improved protection, reduced thickness and a more comfortable fit. Two visits to your dentist are required, one for the mould taking, and a second visit for fitting and mouthguard.
Because the custom-made mouthguard fits perfectly around the teeth, the wearer can concentrate on the sport they are playing. The teeth and surrounding soft tissues are protected against impact, removing any concerns the wearer has about possible dental injury.
It is recommended children aged under 14 wear a simpler custom-made mouthguard because they have a lower body mass and there is less energy on impact. As children mature, the risk of injury increases requiring a higher standard of design and construction.
Those who compete at the top levels of sport require an elite design of mouthguard to provide necessary protection where not only broken teeth but fractured jaws are a real possibility. There is also evidence that custom-made mouthguards are effective against concussion resulting from a blow to the chin.
The custom-made mouthguard should be stored in a clean, strong and sealable plastic container; and kept away from sunlight and heat.
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