In August 2015, a Queensland hockey player was hit in the face with a hockey stick and found out the hard way that not all mouthguards are created equal. The over-the-counter mouthguard she had purchased did little to protect her teeth, and extensive emergency dental work was required to repair the damage. As someone who plans to start playing hockey this summer, there are two good reasons why you should visit your dentist before you pick up your hockey stick and head onto the field.
Overall Dental Health Check
When was the last time you had a full dental check up? As you age, your teeth will become looser in their sockets due to gum recession and decay. A loose tooth can easily be dislodged when playing a high contact sport such as hockey.
Before you play your first game, it is important that you head into your dentist's office for an overall dental health check. A physical check that includes x-rays quickly identifies any problem teeth that are loose and need to be addressed before you start playing hockey.
Custom Fitted Mouthguards
Over-the counter mouthguards may be inexpensive, but they also have disadvantages:
- uncomfortable to wear
- can interfere with your breathing rate
- can make it difficult to talk
- can make swallowing difficult.
Not only are you less likely to continue wearing a mouthguard that is causing you this type of discomfort, but they will not provide you with the protection of a custom-made mouthguard.
Not every person has the same shaped mouth and your jaw line and teeth are different to the hockey player who stands next to you. Just like you wouldn't want to wear a pair of dentures that belongs to another person, why would you want to settle for a mouthguard that is not shaped to fit snugly around your teeth?
Sports Medicine Australia actively promotes the wearing of custom-made mouthguards as a way to reduce the severity of dental injury received while playing a high-contact sport such as hockey or rugby league.
Once your dentist makes a mould of the inside of your mouth, a mouthguard can be manufactured that suits you and no-one else. This offers your teeth the best protection available.
Do not let the cost of a custom-made mouthguard send you to the chemist for an over-the-counter alternative. While it is more expensive than the pharmacy alternative, you will avoid expensive dental repair bills when you wear a superior product, and that makes it a good investment in your dental future.