Protect your pearly whites with a mouth guard
To save our shins on the soccer pitch, we pop on pads. To protect our fists inside the boxing ring, we slip on gloves.
But across all codes, more and more Australians are preventing themselves from putting their pearly whites in peril by sporting a proper mouth guard.
"I'm finding sports clubs, coaches and schools are more aware and conscious of the safety of their players" teeth than ever before,” says Shelton Jeyaratnam, a dentist whose been moulding custom-fitted mouth guards at the Australian Unity Dental Centre in Melbourne's Collins Street for almost six years.
"We've always had a lot of martial artists and hockey and Aussie Rules players drop by, but now we're seeing more people who play non-contact sports come in to get mouth guards," explains Shelton. "High-paced codes like netball, basketball and soccer can result in accidental injuries to the mouth thanks to balls, elbows and falls injuring the face."
And there's an overall change in who's taking the concern most seriously, too.
"For a while, we mainly had parents bringing their kids in to be fitted," Shelton points out. "But coming through now is a generation of young adults who've spent more time and money proactively taking care of their teeth more than any other generation, and as they take up sports or off-the-beaten track activities, they're realising that there's a reasonable chance their teeth could get injured."
Even still, it's still young kids who can benefit most from wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard.
"Primary school-aged kids have mouths and teeth that are still growing and expanding," explains Shelton. "And that's the main danger for getting a mouth guard off the shelf at a pharmacy that only comes in small, medium or large."
"Teeth and jaws come in all different shapes and sizes, so using a mouth guard that hasn't been designed to provide the right amount of protection is risky."
As a dentist, Shelton couldn't recommend a custom-fitted mouth guard more.
"The mouth guards that we fit have two layers to them," says Shelton. "Each layer has a different cushioning and firmness, so they don't just wrap around and adapt to the teeth – they also wrap around the jaw bone."
"How a custom-fitted mouth guard can extend to the very back of your teeth also makes them unlike most of those you melt and mould at home."
Surely though, with all of these benefits, it takes ages to get one made, right?
"Not at all," Shelton reassured. "In less than 15 minutes, we check over the teeth to see that they're clear of any problems before taking a mould for a mouth guard that will provide the maximum amount of coverage for your teeth, including the upper jaw."
"It's normally ready to collect within one week."
With the right level of No Gap Dental cover from Australian Unity, kids and adults can get a mouth guard fitted every 12 months for no out-of-pocket cost*.
But as Shelton admits, "These mouth guards are built to last, so unless you're still growing or you're a grown-up who's good at losing things, chances are you won't need to pop back in all that often."
Learn more about Australian Unity's No Gap Dental Network.
*Subject to yearly benefit limits.
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.