We are a sporty lot in North Devon, with team sports being particularly popular. We are good at sport too and many of our young people are on gifted and talented programs or in Academies. It is often when people reach this level that we see them in practice looking to protect their teeth with a custom fitted mouth guard. Many sports, such as rugby, football, basketball, hockey, boxing, martial arts require high performing athletes to wear a mouth guard and for good reason.
The Rugby Football Association’s website comments that: “In the best interests of players’ safety, we strongly recommend that all players wear a mouth guard during any contact rugby sessions. It has been shown that this significantly reduces the incidence of dental injuries”.
Approximately 25% of children in the UK will injure or lose a front tooth at some stage and traumatic injury from contact sports is increasingly the cause of such injuries.
Dentists are lobbying for the mandatory use of mouth guards for all school children or club players participating in contact sports and some dental insurance plans will not pay out if damage occurs during contact sports (including training sessions) if a mouth guard was not worn to lessen the risk.
The British Orthodontic Society (BOS) website (www.BOS.org.uk) advises: The wearing of a suitable mouth guard “may avoid cuts to the mouth from the brace, damage to the brace and may prevent dental injuries”.
It advises orthodontic patients to wear a mouth guard over their fixed brace.
The BOS further advises that conventional mouth guards do not work with braces because the teeth are shifting, which means they become ill-fitting very quickly. Fortunately there are several different types of ‘orthoguard’ mouth guards specially designed to fit over fixed braces and the BOS recommends that this is the best type to use with a fixed brace.
There are three common types of mouth guard available for braces wearers:
1. Orthoguard. Some companies are now making special off the shelf ‘orthoguard’ mouth guards for patients with braces which feature a channel or trough to accommodate the brace and allow for tooth movement.
2.‘Boil and bite’ mouth guards can be shaped to fit by softening in boiling water and then sucked to mould to the contours of the teeth.
3. Custom made mouth guards. Due to the movement of teeth during orthodontic treatment, a tailor-made mouth guard would need to be changed frequently and may not a viable option for the orthodontic patient (unless the fixed appliance has been fully fitted before the mouth guard is made). However this is the safest option and it is advised the best option if competing at a very high level or in a high risk (of damage to teeth/mouth) sport. The custom-made mouth guard is ideal for use once the braces are off and when wearing a fixed retainer as it presents the safest option for protecting the teeth.
With any mouth guard, if a great deal of movement occurs or if the mouth guard is worn or damaged, it should be replaced. The BOS website has an excellent information sheet on Mouth guards and what to expect from a mouth guard and how to care for them: www.BOS.org.uk
Here in the practice we supply custom fitted mouth guards for many patients, mostly at the end of treatment. We take impressions of your teeth in our clinic and send the moulds to an excellent company called Bridge Dental Laboratory (www.bridgedentallab.co.uk) for production. Prices start from £44 for their basic option. If you would like any further information, please do get in touch: 01271 343688