Keep sporting a winning smile
Studies indicate that between 13% and 39% of all dental injuries are sports related and about one quarter of all children in the UK will injure and/or lose a front tooth at some stage. So whether it’s hockey or horse riding, rugby or rounders, football or netball, boxing and all competitive activities that involve a bat or ball, contact sports can prove a serious adversary to your winning smile. And that is why mandatory use of gumshields for all school children or club players participating in contact sports is being pushed. All professional bodies, sporting and medical, emphatically recommend a gumshield should be part of the sports kit.
Choosing the right Gumshield
Your gumshield should provide adequate thickness of material (4mm) over vulnerable areas to reduce impact forces. When biting lightly on the guard, large areas of its biting surface should be in contact with the teeth in the opposing jaw, minimising the risk of jaw fracture. And most importantly it should be comfortable, well-fitting and not prone to dislodging on impact.
- Always rinse with cold water or a mouth rinse before and after use and/or clean with toothpaste and a toothbrush. Every now and then it should be washed more thoroughly in cool, soapy water and rinsed well.
- Store or transport it in a firm, perforated container which permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
- Protect your gumshield from high temperatures like hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight, as this may cause distortion.
- Check the gumshield for visible tears, before use and any rough areas which may indicate splits or cracks. To identify these run a finger along the non-fitting surface of the guard which contacts the opposing teeth. This surface must be checked after a heavy blow to the mouth or jaw also as no gumshield lasts forever and once damaged it may fail in its ‘duty’ to protect.
- The gumshield should be inspected regularly to ensure fit, particularly for children who are still growing and if wearing braces.
Gumshields with Braces
At Confident Orthodontics we will advise and supply an appropriate gumshield to suit your needs:
- Some companies are now making special off the shelf ‘ortho-guard’ gumshields for patients with braces which feature a channel or trough to accommodate the brace and allow for tooth movement.
- ‘Boil and bite’ gumshields can be shaped to fit by softening in boiling water and then sucked to mould to the contours of the mouth. This means that as the teeth move, the gumshield can be remoulded to adapt to the new shape of the mouth.
- Custom-made gumshields may not be a viable option for the orthodontic patient unless the fixed appliance has been fully fitted before the gumshield is made. If a great deal of tooth movement takes place wearers may need a second gumshield after about a year’s treatment