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Sports Dentistry FAQs

Q.What Dental Disease can affect an athletes performance?

Dental Disease comes in 2 main forms:

  • Caries - the most common form is caries, or a cavity in the tooth. Caries develops when bacteria(plaque) on our teeth, in the presence of sugars from food, produce acids that can dissolve calcium from teeth. This results in a cavity that should be treated immediately.

If a cavity develops it  can progress to  the nerve. Inflammation or infection of the nerve can follow. This will result  in an abscess, which may be indicated by pain, swelling, fever or drainage into the mouth.

  • Gum Disease - bacteria that causes decay can also use saliva minerals to form a hard material attached to the tooth surface. This is calculus (tartar), which irritates the gums and can cause bleeding and swelling. The bacteria can release toxins that affect the bone supporting the teeth, leading to loosening of tooth and in extreme cases loss of tooth.
Q.What challenges do Athletes of all abilities face to maintain good Oral Health?

Poor Oral Health is common in elite athletes and there are many challenges to good Oral Health.

Nutritional Issues
Frequent carbohydrate intake and acidic sports drinks required for training.

Dehydration
Caused by intensive training and results in dry mouth which results in increased vulnerability to dietary sugars and acids.

Poor General Health Behaviours
This type of behaviour will likely lead to unbalanced diet containing more sugars.

Lack of awareness of oral health factors that can be significant.

Lack of Support
Preventative support not available ie. not registered with a dental practice.

Q.How can Oral Health and my teeth affect my Sporting Performance?

Withdrawal from training or competition due to dental pain or infection.

Decrease in performance due to acute dental infection, body not functioning at 100%.

Recent dental issues can affect concentration leading to important sporting performance.

Combat /contact sports have increased chance of injury to teeth, jaws and head.

Q.How are Oral Health issues and disease prevented?

Follow the basics:

  • Increased awareness of the effects of high sugar consumption
  • Reduce daily sugar episodes
  • Drink more water
  • Good routine of oral hygiene to prevent dental disease

What is that routine?

  • Toothbrushing - a routine with a Fluoride toothpaste (1450ppm F) twice daily.
  • Flossing-  a routine of daily flossing is recommended. This cleans the areas of teeth that the toothbrush can not reach. Especially useful in the morning and after high intake of sugar associated with training.
  • Dental Mouthwash- a routine use of a fluoride mouthwash is beneficial. Again will help areas that toothbrush can not reach. Gives extra protection if higher sugar intake during intensive training.
  • Regular Dental Check-ups - helps dental screening and detect early decay. Dental hygienist appointments are a vital part of regime.
Q.Who needs a mouthguard?

Anyone who undertakes an activity where collision or contact to the face is a legitimate risk should wear a mouthguard.

Prevention is always better than the cure, so play it safe and wear a mouthguard.

Q.Do non-contact sports really need a mouthguard?

Whilst contact sports and intentional collision sports such as boxing, american football, rugby union and league, hockey and boxing are ‘no brainers’.

It is the 'non-contact' sports where accidental collision occurs that are often responsible for most dental trauma.

Sports such as football, cricket, basketball, netball, skiing, etc whilst considered ‘non-contact’, they still carry risk of accidental collision, indeed many thousands of adults and children are treated for dental trauma each year.

Prevention is always better than the cure, so play it safe and wear a mouthguard.

Q.I'm only an amateur athlete, do I still need a mouthguard?

Yes, in our experience you are more likely to incur a dental trauma as amateur as an athlete.

Prevention is always better than the cure, so play it safe and wear a mouthguard.

Q.I only train, do I still need a mouthguard?

Yes, you are just as likely to incur a dental trauma during training as you are during the game!

Prevention is always better than the cure, so play it safe and wear a mouthguard.

Q.If I don't wear a mouthguard, what type of dental trauma can happen?

Over the years we have seen dental trauma from sporting injury that included damage to:

  • Tooth nerve
  • Fractured or cracked teeth
  • Knocked out teeth
  • Broken jaw
  • Damage to the tongue
  • Cut and burst lips


Even a single incident may require lifetime of dental treatment to maintain the strength and health of the damaged tooth/teeth.

Repair work does not last forever, so a damaged tooth will often become a lifelong problem.

Prevention is always better than the cure, so play it safe and wear a mouthguard.

Q.What type of mouthguard is there and which is the best?

There are essentially 2 types of mouthguard:

  • Boil & Bite
  • Custom Fitted

Park Practice recommends a custom-fitted mouthguard for all athletes who participate in contact sport or sports with high risk of dental injury.

Q.Boil & Bite Mouthguards, are they worth it?

Commonly available from your local chemist or sports store they offer less protection as they are ill fitted and loose in the mouth, which can be dangerous during impact.

As a dental clinic experienced in sports dentistry we often see dental trauma from patients who've used boil & bite mouthguards.

Q.Should I always choose a custom mouthguard?

Yes, a custom-fitted mouthguard makes breathing and speaking a lot easier when wearing your mouthguard.

Designed by your our dental clinic they are not just a lot more comfortable than their ‘boil & bite’ counterparts but as also much more likely to prevent dental trauma.

Q.What can I expect if I ask for a Custom Fitted Mouthguard?

If you decide a custom-fitted mouthguard is the best option for you, we will:

  • Take an impression
  • Create a plaster model of your teeth
  • The model will be used to accurately assess your mouth
  • Design a uniquely fitted mouthguard
  • Fit your mouthguard

Once fitted we will provide guidance and advice on how to care for it properly.

Q.When should I replace my mouthguard??

If your mouthguard has been successful and prevented trauma, it may be damaged. Under these circumstances the custom-fitted mouthguard may need to be replaced.

Alternatively if you have new teeth since your mouthguard was first fitted, then you should have the mouthguard replaced.

Always bring your mouthguard with you when attending regular check-ups so that you're dentist can assess it.

Questions and answers about Sports Dentistry

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