In a recent study released in 2014, titled “Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry”, it has been noted by fellow dentists Rick Knowlton, Conni M. Kracher and Wendy Schmeling Smith that there are more than five million teeth that are avulsed each year, with many of these occurring during sports activities. It was found that 13-39 % of all dental injuries were sports-related.
This was mainly due to the fact that only 75% of the athletes fully comply with protective gear requirements for football and a meagre 7% wear mouthguards for all other types of sports, with numbers in sports like skateboarding and snowboarding extremely low.
The most common athletic injuries are: soft tissue injuries, fractures, temporomandibular disc injury, Tooth Intrusion, Tooth Extrusion, Crown Fractures, Root Fractures and Avulsions.
The easiest way to avoid these kinds of problems would be to wear mouthguards. And one of the myths that surround an athlete’s refusal to wear a mouthguard is their belief that it would affect their breathing thus distracting or handicapping them during the game. However, studies and tests have shown that this isn’t the case. A well set mouthguard wouldn’t deter the athlete from performing well.
The best way to get a good mouthguard is to consult a dentist. The dentist would make a special design for the athlete so that the mouthguard would fit his or her teeth perfectly, thus eliminating any form of discomfort. Dr. Dorairajan Kulandaivel from Chandler Road Dental Clinic has been making custom fitted mouthguards for the athletes of Melbourne for over a decade and has even made some custom mouthguards for members of the Essendon Football Club (in Black and Red of course!)
Dr. Dorai ran us through some of the important characteristics that every good mouthguard should have:
- A good mouthguard should be tailored adequately so that it would cover and protect both the teeth in the arch as well as the surrounding tissue.
- It must be made on a stone model molded directly from the teeth of the athlete.
- It should be thick enough to provide the necessary buffer thus reducing all impact forces. There is a minimum of 3mm in the occlusal/labial area.
- It should also have a balanced seated occlusion in case of occlusal contact.
- The hold on the athlete’s teeth should be strong.
- Materials used should be ADA approved.
There are different kinds of mouthguards to choose from namely, the stock mouthguards, mouth-formed protectors and custom made mouthguards. Out of all three, the custom made mouthguards are the best since they are made of thermoplastic polymer and tailored specifically for the athlete who would use it.
There are two types of custom made mouthguards: the custom vacuum formed mouthguards and custom pressure-laminated mouthguards. The custom vacuum formed mouthguard is the one that is most commonly used. However, the pressure-laminated mouthguards are more durable and offer fewer problems in terms of breathing and speaking.
If you can afford it (remember you’re putting a price on your teeth here), every dentist will recommend a custom made mouthguard. And, with the alternatively being broken teeth and a few painful hours in the dental surgery, believe us when we say it’s money well spent!