The Mouth Guard, Your Teeth’s First Line Of Defence

Australians love sports, and one of the most popular is rugby, with over 180,000 players participating annually. Rugby is a rough and tumble full contact sport, and care must be taken to protect the players, which is why you see them wearing scrum caps and shoulder pads. There is one other very important piece of protective equipment they wear that is a little harder to see, but maybe you have spotted it- the mouth guard.

The mouth guard is a dental device designed to cover your teeth and protect them, along with your gums, tongue, and cheeks. Not too surprisingly, oral trauma injuries are very common during rugby matches, with an estimated 65% of players suffering from one or more during their career! Fortunately, rugby players are defended by their custom mouthguard, designed specifically to fit comfortably in their mouths while they have at it on the pitch.

This helpful dental device is used for a lot more than sports, it can also be helpful if you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth, which is a fairly common problem related to stress and anxiety. Teeth can be damaged by excessive pressure, like grinding, as well as concussive force like having a rugby ball smashed into your face- ouch! The mouth guard can prevent injury to the entire inside of your mouth and is particularly helpful if you suffer from a lost or chipped tooth, or have painful nerve damage to a tooth.

There are a variety of mouthguards available depending on your needs:

  • Stock – These are preformed devices that you can purchase over the counter. They are available in different sizes, but they are not custom moulded to your mouth, which can cause them to be uncomfortable, fit poorly, and make it difficult to speak and breathe properly. They should only be considered for occasional use.
  • Boil-and-Bite – These are formed from a thermoplastic material that is first softened in boiling water, then fitted to your mouth’s shape by biting into it which forms a permanent impression of your dental structure. They are better than the stock variety, but still not as snugly fitting as a custom model made by your dental or orthodontic professional. They are often used for sports and any rough activity that might impact your teeth.
  • Custom – These are fashioned specifically for your mouth’s unique shape by your dental or orthodontic professional. A mold is cast from your teeth which is then used to fashion the custom mouth guard which fits perfectly over your teeth. While more expensive, they guarantee the best possible protection. They can also be designed for specific needs such as nocturnal grinding, and high-contact sports like rugby. These specially designed devices fit better, are safer, more comfortable to wear, and more likely to stay in place even after a hard hit.

Our teeth are very important to our physical and mental health and well-being, so wearing a mouth guard is a great defence!