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The Daily Advertiser reports on the ADA NSW’s advice for correct mouthguard use

25 March 2019
The Daily Advertiser, Wagga Wagga 
Jessica McLaughlin

As the winter sports season rolls around, dental professionals are urging players to remember their mouthguards and avoid clogging up clinics with costly, potentially serious dental injuries. 

Broken jaws, fractured, cracked or knocked out teeth, and cut lips and tongues are common injuries sustained every year by people not wearing mouthguards during contact sports such as rugby union, Australian Rules Football, rugby league and even hockey.

Wagga dentist Kathleen Matthews said statistics show that close to 40 per cent of patients presenting with dental trauma are a result of sport related injuries, and the Wagga Base Hospital dental clinic where she works sees many of its own cases. 

"You see at least one to two children per month coming through because of sport as a local practice, and if you spread that out across the ten or so clinics in Wagga, it is a significant amount," she said.

"I would say as a dentist in the Wagga community, there are peak times of the year and sporting season is one of those peaks, alongside Christmas with scooters and bikes being given as gifts."

Ms Matthews said promoting the use of mouthguards is important, but there is also benefit in being professionally fitted with one. 

"The nice thing about a mouthguard fitted by a dentist is that you've had a mould fitted specifically to your teeth like a tailored suit so it's far more comfortable," she said.

"Generic, over the counter alternatives don't fit as well so people wearing them feel a little uncomfortable, which can even interfere with breathing or mean you have to clench your teeth to hold it in, so not only does it interrupt concentration on the game, but it can be detrimental to your teeth and jaw."

Australian Dental Association (ADA) NSW President Neil Peppitt said mouthguards will not only prevent injury, but avoid hefty fees.

"These sorts of injuries are often difficult to treat, and often involve a lifetime of expense," he said. 

"Mouthguards help absorb and spread the impact to a blow to the face, which may otherwise result in an injury to the mouth or jaw.

"They should be a vital part of the kit of anyone involved in contact sports and are essential to prevent dental injury."

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