Mouthguards in sport should be compulsory

Mouthguards in sport should be compulsory

Speaking at the annual conference of the Irish Dental Association in Galway, Dr Sally McCarthy, who specialises in treating sports injuries, emphasised the importance of wearing mouthguards. Up to 20% of players of contact sports will undergo serious dental trauma during their playing careers, a dentist and former pentathlete has warned.

Dr McCarthy noted that while almost all of Gaelic Athletic Association players wear mouthguards due to this being made compulsory in 2014, in rugby, this figure can go as low as 80%. Reasons given by players who do not wear mouthguards include discomfort, a gagging feeling, breathing difficulties and communication difficulties. However, she said in such cases customised mouthguards could be a solution.

"Besides the physical pain, it's estimated that lifelong treatment for serious dental trauma can cost between €5,000 and €20,000. Using a mouthguard can help avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth or even tooth loss. They also limit the extent of injuries to lips, the tongue and the soft tissues of the mouth," she explained.

She said that national sporting bodies need to rocognise their role in protecting their members by making mouthguard use compulsory. For example, she pointed out that while mouthguards are strongly recommended by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Hockey Ireland, they are not mandatory.

Dr McCarthy also told the conference that sporting bodies should be supporting good oral habits among their members by discouraging the consumption of sugary foods and sports drinks. "Constantly sipping sugary drinks or consuming snacks with a high sugar content has a dissolving effect on tooth enamel. Each time the saliva neutralises the sugar to protect the teeth, it is hit by another dissolving dose of sugar. Children should not be given sugary drinks after training. Water and a non-sugary snack such as a sandwich or wrap is fine and this would reduce the overall exposure of teeth to sugar," she said.

Source: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=26191

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