Competitive sports: why mouth guards matter

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  Posted by: Dental Design      11th May 2018

Competitive sports: why mouth guards matter

With events such as the Winter Olympics continually putting competitive sports in a global spotlight, it’s little surprise that the number of people playing sports rises each year in the UK.[i]According to sports surveys there have been significant increases in the number of people playing competitive sports at least once a week, and a general increase in the number of people wanting to be more active as a whole.

Whilst some sports are undeniably more popular than others, Sport England demonstrates a marked increase in the number of people enjoying more physically demanding competitive sports such as rugby union, hockey and various martial arts. Whilst this is good news for people’s general health it can mean quite the opposite for their teeth, especially if they don’t take proper precautions. After all, people are unlikely to forget shin guards or other protective clothing, but do they always remember to protect their teeth?


Why should people playing sports protect their teeth?

For children playing sports in particular, the face is often the main area of damage and because of this dental trauma has become a solid link between sports and dentistry even from an early age.[ii]Figures show that sports injuries account for 13-39% of all dental injuries, and that nearly all sports have a chance at causing dental trauma, not just contact sports.


Studies exploring the link between sports and dental injuries have achieved varying results, but some have shown that up to 80% of participants in certain sports have experienced some level of dental trauma over a fifteen year time period.[iii]Whilst these figures will be different from sport to sport, they still show that the risk of dental trauma is prevalent in sporting activities.


What are the risks?

There are many forms of dental trauma commonly incurred by people playing sports, and luxation injuries to teeth, fracture of the facial bones, and concussion injuries are the most common problems that can emerge from sporting activities.[iv]

However, the most extreme form of trauma is tooth avulsion, and in some countries it is estimated that over 5 million teeth are avulsed each year – mainly due to sporting injuries.[v]In the UK alone there is evidence to suggest that at least 1.2% of all fifteen year-old children have missing teeth due to dental trauma, and that’s only taking into consideration cases in the anterior region.[vi]Though the tooth can sometimes be replanted, the periodontal ligament as well as the nerves and arteries surrounding the site of tooth loss are always irreparably damaged, making replanting an option only for some cases.[vii]

Replanting the tooth requires very specific conditions and can only successfully be achieved in a short window of time after the accident, meaning that in many cases implantation will fail and the dentist will have to consider restorative solutions such as implants or removable prosthetics. All cases of tooth avulsion should be treated, as the loss of a permanent tooth causes severe damage to the alveolar bone that subsequently could require extensive surgeries to repair, especially when aiming to provide an aesthetically and functionally satisfactory result for the patient.[viii]


Why mouth guards matter

Despite the obvious risks, studies have shown that even though more people are participating in sport, the sale and use of mouth guards and other dental protection products has not increased.[ix]Some studies have shown that as few as 6% of participants wear a mouth guard when engaging in competitive sports,[x]putting themselves at risk of dental trauma.

Shock absorbent and able to provide soft tissue protection, research has revealed that mouth guards are effective at reducing all dental injuries during sport.[xi]One case even showed that when given to a team of American football players, mouth guards reduced cases of orofacial injuries from around 50% down to 0.5%.[xii]

Of course, as every patient’s mouth is individual, their mouth guard should follow suit. Research has shown that custom-fabricated mouth guards afford the most protection as they mould to the patient’s unique tooth shapes, offering better support and protection.[xiii]

A trusted solution to preventing sports-related dental trauma, CosTech Dental Laboratory’s Saber Protect mouth guards are custom crafted to each individual and are designed to take into account not only the patient’s unique oral cavity but also what sport they play and to what level. Each mouth guard is therefore designed with custom thickness for shock absorbency and different layers of laminate protection depending on the likelihood of dental trauma.


Always recommend a mouth guard


No matter what sport a person plays, the risk of dental trauma is always a concern that should be addressed. Contact sports aren’t the only ones that are potentially dangerous and therefore it is wise for dental professionals to suggest to participants of any level that they get a custom fitted mouth guard to best reduce the opportunity of dental trauma.

In doing so, the dental professional can significantly reduce the risks associated with playing competitive sports for the patient, and hopefully avoid the need to provide extensive restorative surgery for them due to sports-related trauma in the future.



For more information about Saber Protect Custom Mouth Guards,

please visit or call 01474 320076




[i]Sport England. The Active People Survey 10. (2016). Link: [Last accessed 02.18]


[ii]Ramagoni, N., Kumar, V., Saketh, S. Rao, R., Karthikeyan, J. (2014). Sports Dentistry: A Review. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent, Volume 4(Suppl 3): S139–S146.


[iii]Beachy, G. (2004). Dental Injuries in Intermediate and High School Athletes: A 15-year Study at Punahou School. J Athl Train, Volume 39pages 310-315.


[iv]Ramagoni, N., Kumar, V., Saketh, S. Rao, R., Karthikeyan, J. (2014). Sports Dentistry: A Review. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent, Volume 4(Suppl 3): S139–S146.

[v]Kracher, C., Knowlton, R. (2003). Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry Statistics. Link: [Last accessed 02.18]


[vi]Office for National Statistics (2004). Children’s Dental Health Survey 2003 – Technical Report. Link: [Last accessed 02.18]


[vii]Tezel, H., Cigdem, A., Kayrak, G. (2013). Replantation After traumatic Avulsion. Eur J Dent, Volume 7(2) pages 229–232.


[viii] Brüllmann, D., Schulze, R., d’Hoedt, B. (2011). The Treatment of Anterior Dental Trauma. Dtsch Arztebl Int, Volume 108(34-35) pages 565–570.


[ix]Young, E., Macias, C., Stephens, L. (2015). Common Dental Injury Management in Athletes. Sports Health, Volume 7(3) pages 250-255.


[x] H, Rodd., Chesham, D. (1997). Sports-Related Oral Injury and Mouthguard Use Among Sheffield School Children. Community Dent Health Volume 14(1) pages 25-30.


[xi] Emerich, K., Kaczmarek, J. (2010). First Aid for Dental Trauma Caused by Sporting Activities. Sports Med Volume 40, pages 361-366.


[xii]Kracher, C., Knowlton, R. (2003). Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry Statistics. Link: [Last accessed 02.18]


[xiii]Newsome, P., Tran, D., Cooke, M. (2001). The Role of the Mouthguard in the Prevention of Sports-Related Dental injuries: A Review. Int J Paediatr Dent. 2001 Volume 11(6) pages 396-404.


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