Giving your smile a sporting chance

From boxing to basketball, cricket to cycling, hockey to horse riding, football to netball,
rounders to rugby, and several in between, contact sports, and those that involve speed
or bats and balls, can seriously endanger teeth. 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.

As a result the dental profession is lobbying for the mandatory use of gumshields for all school children or club players participating in contact sports. The British Orthodontic Society, the British Dental Association, Rugby Football League Association, British Boxing Council, English Hockey Association and Rugby Football Union, emphatically recommend a gumshield should be part of the sports kit. The Rugby Football Association’s website comments that:  “In the best interests of players’ safety, we strongly recommend that all players wear a gumshield during any contact rugby sessions. It has been shown that this significantly reduces the incidence of dental injuries”.

Gumshields with Braces

There are several different types of ‘ortho-guard’ gumshields specially designed to fit over fixed braces and the British Orthodontic Society recommends that this is the best type to use with a fixed brace. At Wells 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.

Selecting the right Gumshield

Your gumshield should be comfortable, well-fitting and not prone to dislodging on impact. It 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.

Gumshield Maintenance

  • Always rinse with cold water or a mouth rinse before and after use and/or clean with toothpaste and a toothbrush. From time to time it should be washed more thoroughly in cool, soapy water and rinsed well.
  • Store or transport it in a firm, perforated container. This permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage.
  • Protect your gumshield from high temperatures like hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight, to minimise distorting its shape.
  • Always check the gumshield in good light for any visible tears, before use. Any rough areas may indicate splits or cracks. Identify these by running a finger along the non-fitting surface of the guard which comes into contact with the opposing teeth. This surface must also be checked after a heavy blow to the mouth or jaw. No gumshield lasts forever and once damaged, the gumshield may fail in its ‘duty’ to protect.
  • The gumshield should also be inspected regularly to ensure it fits correctly; this is particularly important for children who are still growing and for those who wear orthodontic braces.

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Contact us for more information

TEL: 01749 675 825