Kids could face trying times for their dental health by not wearing mouth guards when playing rugby, says leading dental health charity.
The Rugby World Cup kicks off later this week and the British Dental Health Foundation has taken a look at our kids on-field habits - finding that only a third1 of our children are wearing mouth guards while playing rugby at school.
These results could indicate a lack of knowledge when it comes to the potential dangers to dental health that children have on the rugby pitch. Not wearing a mouth guard can result in cracked or even knocked out (avulsed) teeth, and with that severe pain and a lifetime of extensive and possibly expensive treatment.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, highlighted the importance of having the proper protection on the playing field: "The Rugby World Cup is a fantastic occasion for Britain and also a fantastic arena for us to spread our safety message. When you see your team run out on that pitch, every single one of them will be wearing a mouth guard, they would think it crazy not to.
"Mouth guards for children, therefore, should not be optional; they should be one of the first things in the kit bag. Rugby by its very nature is very physical and accidents happen, sporting injuries are a leading cause2 of adults losing teeth. Wearing a mouth guard is a simple and cheap way of ensuring kids safety.
"Rugby Football Union (RFU) regulations ensure mouth guards are compulsory3 for all players involved in rugby activities above school level, so they have acknowledged and highlighted their importance. If players over school age have to wear mouth guards then there really is no excuse for school children not to wear them."
The national charity, aptly based in Rugby, Warwickshire, say an effective and properly fitted mouth guard could cost around £40 - £50 and is something which a dentist will be able to organise. A relatively small amount of money when you consider not wearing one could lead to a lifetime of dental a work and the expense that comes with it.
Custom-made mouth guards can prevent damage to the jaw, neck and even the brain - helping to prevent against concussion and damage caused by a heavy blow.
It is important to wear a professionally made mouth guard whenever you play sport that involves physical contact or moving objects. This includes: cricket, hockey and football - which can cause broken and damaged teeth; and American football, boxing and rugby - which can all cause broken or dislocated jaws.
"We must take cues from other nations. New Zealand rugby saw a 43 per cent reduction4 in dental injuries after referees were given powers to ensure that all domestic rugby players of all ages must wear mouth guards," continued Dr Carter.
"We all take our teeth for granted. Often, it is only when we are faced with the reality of losing one, or several, that we realise just how important they are.
"Getting a child to wear a mouth guard should not also prove difficult either, just point at their favourite player and they will be wearing one, as role models rugby players are great advocates for mouth guards. You can also get them in children's favourite team colours too, so they can support their team with pride when they next run on to the pitch."
For a custom made mouth guard please contact our Liverpool Dentist.