The tooth about mouthguards
With winter sports well underway, it's time to think about your teeth.
Bupa Dental, Australia’s largest private dental provider, has warned parents that children playing contact sports are at risk of sustaining potentially preventable injuries during sport because they don't have a custom-made mouthguard.
As the various footy codes, hockey and basketball seasons kick off around the country, Dr Joseph Badr, Bupa Dental Principal Dentist, said that the convenience and price of an over the counter ‘boil and bite’ mouthguard is outweighed by the significantly reduced protection they provide.
“A custom fit mouthguard does cost more than a boil and bite, but this is really a case of you get what you pay for,” Dr Badr said.
“As a dentist I know that they deliver better protection.
We now see agreement on that all the way up to the AFL Medical Officers Association who no longer recommend boil and bite mouthguards at any level of play as they can dislodge.
“The benefits of a custom fit mouthguard are twofold in that they not only provide the maximum level of protection when used, but because they are more comfortable to wear kids are more likely to actually use them,” Dr Badr said.
While a custom fit mouthguard may cost up to $200 compared to as little as $20 for an over the counter mouthguard, Dr Badr sympathised with families facing significant costs associated with kids sport but said that there were ways to reduce the financial impact.
“The last thing we want to do is add another cost to family budgets just so the kids can play sport, but the costs from significant dental trauma from sports would hurt a lot more,” Dr Badr said.
“Many health insurers will cover the cost of a mouthguard as part of their dental coverage. At Bupa we had more than 10,000 kids claim a mouthguard last year that were covered under our gap free dental coverage for kids, meaning they had no out of pocket costs.
“At a time when everyone is looking at value for money of health insurance, this is one example where it can save cost both now as a preventative measure and in the case of an accident,” Dr Badr said.
AFL legend and Hawthorn premiership player Peter Hudson reiterated the message, saying that the speed of the game now compared to when he played meant mouthguards are now crucial.
“Mouthguards were only just coming in to the game during my time and I certainly saw a few incidents where people have had their tooth knocked out and they’re trying to find their tooth on the field,” Mr Hudson said.
You look at the pace at which the game is played now, the sheer force of colliding with someone at speed - head down and eyes on the ball – means a mouthguard is one of the most important investments.
According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), about one-third of traumatic injuries to teeth are sports-related.
Sports Medicine Association Australia suggests that 50% of children experience some form of dental injury.