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Mouthguards a must as dental injuries are on the rise

25 February 2020
The Southern Highland News

The NSW Waratahs and Australian Dental Association NSW are urging winter sporting participants in the Southern Highlands region to obtain a custom-made mouthguard from their dentist and avoid potentially lifelong and costly dental injuries.

New research has highlighted the risk of sustaining dental injuries while playing sport.

Broken jaws, fractured, cracked or dislodged teeth, cut lips and tongue wounds are among the serious injuries being sustained by Australian participants every year - injuries which could be avoided with an appropriate mouthguard.

"Sports-related injuries account for nearly 40 per cent of dental injuries, yet only about a third of Australians wear a mouthguard when playing contact sport," ADA NSW vice-president Dr Michael Jonas said.

"Serious dental and mouth injuries can be costly to fix, sideline you for a long time and in serious cases can also lead to a lifetime of treatment.

"You don't need to be playing obvious contact sports to sustain injuries either. Even non-contact sports like touch football, netball and soccer carry a risk of accidental collision, resulting in dental trauma.

"No matter what age you are or your expertise level, mouthguards are part of your sporting equipment."

A new study has shown that half of field hockey players sustained at least one oro-facial injury, including broken or loosened teeth, while playing sport.

The research also concluded that, as well as providing most comfort, custom-made mouthguards protected against injuries.

Dr Jonas said custom-fitted mouthguards, which work by absorbing and spreading the impact of any damaging blows and can be fitted by a dentist, were best for sports participants.

"Self-fitted, over-the-counter mouthguards, including what are commonly known as boil-and-bite mouthguards, should not be used," Dr Jonas said.

"A mouthguard custom-fitted by your dentist is far superior to an over-the- counter mouthguard. It is specially designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, is resilient, balances your bite and allows speech and normal breathing.

"If properly used, storied and checked by your dentist every year, a custom-filled mouthguard should last several seasons."

NSW Waratahs star Maya Stewart said it was vital sports participants wear an appropriate mouthguard.

"Playing a contact sport, we have to be really careful with protecting our teeth so we wear professionally-fitted mouthguards at training and in games," Stewart said.

"Accidents can happen in all sports and no matter what level you're playing, a custom mouthguard can help prevent serious injury and keep you on the field."

ORAL HEALTH STATS:
 

  • Sports-related injuries account for nearly 40 per cent of dental injuries, yet only 36 per cent of Australians wear a mouthguard when playing contact sport and even fewer wear a mouthguard during training.
  • A single case of dental trauma can lead to a lifetime of treatment and potentially cost thousands of dollars in treatment.
  • Dental trauma from sporting injury can result in damage to the tooth nerve, fractured, cracked or knocked-out teeth, a broken jaw and/or damage to the tongue and cut lips.
  • Latest Health NSW data has shown more than 90,000 people are currently waiting for public dental treatment in NSW.
  • The rate of dental injury hospitalisations for children aged 0-14 across NSW has increased from 10.7 per 100,000 in 2001-04 to 21.9 in 2015-18.

Read the full Southern Highland News article here

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