Mouth guards don’t always look particularly attractive. It’s probably best to get that out of the way to start with.
Having a great big lump of plastic in your mouth isn’t going to win anyone any beauty contests. They don’t do much for your speech, either.
Let’s face it, mouthguards aren’t pretty.
Of course, they’re not supposed to be; and you can take them out.
Losing teeth isn’t pretty, either, and has long term consequences. In a sporting nation, mouth guards are an essential piece of kit to help keep Australians healthy and happy.
People take up sport early in Australia. That’s a good thing, of course, but it can have its downsides. Playing contact sports as a child coincides with tooth development.
It is estimated that a fifth of Aussie children have experienced “dental trauma” by the time they’re 14 years old. That means having at least one tooth knocked out, broken or displaced. As you only get one set of adult teeth, that kind of damage will stay with you for life.
The ages between 10 and 14 are when peoples’ dentistry settles into place. That doesn’t just mean the teeth, but skull and jawbone growth. The ideal time to have braces fitted is between those years.
After that, the oro-facial structure stays the same for life. Just as it’s a good time to have braces fitted, it’s the worst time to suffer facial damage.
Even having a tooth dislodged can force the root into unnatural positions. Apart from being amazingly painful, this can lead to abscesses and bone damage. This will stay as part of the facial structure in the future.
Of course, kids like to be brave, and probably won’t mind a few battle scars. But it’s the unseen damage that’s the problem.
The good news is that none of this needs to happen. Properly made and fitted mouth guards avoid immediate, short- and long-term distress. They work by distributing the force of any collision across a wide area.
Rather than one or two teeth bearing the brunt, the guard evens out the energy applied. Just as boxers wear big gloves, a mouth guard literally lessens the blow.
To work effectively, a mouth guard has to be tailor made. There are “boil and bite” guards available over the counter, but these can be worse than useless. Everybody’s mouth is different, and so should every mouth guard be. Children, especially, will have different shaped mouths as they grow up.
A mouth guard needs to fit exactly, or it could focus any impact rather than absorb it.
There is a national Mouthguard Policy which covers all contact sports. This gives an essential piece of sports equipment the recognition it needs.
Parents and team leaders, not to mention sports players, will appreciate the benefits.