For most contact sports, getting knocked about is just part of the game.
Whether it's footy, hockey or boxing, armed with the right mouthguard, athletes give themselves the best chance of avoiding some nasty injuries. But surprisingly, many clubs - local and professional, don't enforce rules requiring players to wear mouthguards. Even when these rules are enforced, it's clear that there are no set guidelines for the standard or quality of mouthguards that should be used.
Fortunately, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) decided to step in late last year, launching a "No Mouthguard No Play" policy. The campaign, launched together by ADA and Sports Medicine Australia, encouraged sports clubs to sign up and implement the recommended Mouthguard Policy.
However, the bulk of athletes (about 75%) who do happen to wear mouthguards often wear the "boil-and-bite" variety that can be bought over the counter at your local chemist or sports retailer. Their popularity comes from their ease of use, with users simply boiling the product (which softens the interior lining) and biting in it to get the shape of their mouth.
Dr Peter Alldritt, Chair of the ADA Oral Health Committee says that, "Not all mouthguards provide adequate protection, and in some cases, can cause even more damage." He has consistently vocalised his preference for custom-made mouth guards - 'the only type of mouthguard recommended by dentists.'
In fact, a recent Sydney Morning Herald article may give pause to users of boil-and-bite mouthguards. In the article, Julie Power reports that new research now shows that boil-and-bite mouthguards may do more harm than good, due to their propensity to change shapes and move around.
In the same article, the Sydney Morning Herald details the injuries suffered by hockey player, Christina Johnson, who subsequently called for the ban of all over-the-counter mouthguards.
So what's the big difference between a custom mouthguard and an over the counter 'boil and bite' product? And why is it that professional athletes in Australia playing contact sports prefer custom mouthguards?
Custom mouthguards are made from a high precision mould of an athlete's mouth. The mould takes the guess work out of shaping a mouthguard and ensures that it fits properly. It forms the basis for Australian dental technicians to then create a custom mouthguard that is built to the exact specifications of the athlete's mouth. Because of this process, custom mouthguards are viewed as more durable, safer and comfortable to wear. They should be less likely to fall out during play compared to boil and bites while also being easier to speak with when wearing.
Most importantly, custom mouthguards are generally safer. This is supported by a study conducted by the University of New South Wales, which found that wearers of custom mouthguards experience a substantially lower rate of head and facial injuries. The study subjects were Australian Rules football players who were allocated at random either custom or bite-and-boil mouthguards, where the protection offered by the former were found to be superior.
Dr Alldritt adds that custom mouthguards substantially lower the risk as well as the seriousness of injuries. He recommends that children, in particular, should obtain a custom mouthguard each year to ensure optimum protection since they are still growing and their mouths continue to change.
Sports Medicine Australia, the leading sports medicine and sports science body in the country, also recommends custom made mouthguards for any players of contact sports.
With all the scientific evidence that proves again and again the benefits of custom mouthguards, why are the majority of athletes still wearing boil-and-bite products?
One of the key drivers is price - dentists can charge up to $400 for each custom mouthguard, and they really add up when you're being fitted for one every year or two. Another driver is the marketing employed by boil-and-bite manufacturers and the fact they are easily available.
Gameday solves this problem by providing everyday Australians with access to the highest quality custom mouthguards for low prices and without the traditional need to visit a dentist.
You can buy a Gameday mouthguard for as little as $79.95, which is a similar price to many less effective over the counter models. Gameday can do this as they provide consumers with a 'home impression kit' and instructions to create a highly precise mould of their mouths in the comfort of their own homes. The mould is then sent back to Gameday and the customer receives their custom mouthguard within nine days of the mould being received.
Thousands of Australians are buying Gameday home impression kits online to save themselves a trip to the dentist and considerable amounts of money.
Gameday custom-fitted mouthguards are worn by professional athletes and allow Australians to access the highest quality custom mouthguards for a fraction of the cost of visiting a dentist.
Click here to build your Custom Mouthguard.