As part of my weekly routine I work in the Oral Surgery Department of the CUH Dental Hospital. I have seen enough damage to athletes mouths, teeth, gums, and jaws after weekend games to say that gum-shields are an essential piece of kit. The use of mouthguards in Ireland is fairly hit and miss. Organisations like Irish Rugby Union and, recently, the GAA have insisted on players wearing mouthguards but injuries can happen in any sport where contact with another player, the ground or goal posts is likely.
The dangers of not wearing a mouthguard are very real. In fact, studies show:
- that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard
- The US Surgeon General’s report on oral health found that sporting activities are linked to nearly one-third of all dental injuries
- A study by Castaldi has shown that dental and facial injuries contribute up to 39% of total injuries experienced in youth sport
- The lifelong financial cost for a lone avulsed (knocked out) tooth is estimated to be €18,000
- In Ireland, Stewart et al. found that sports injuries accounted for 23% of children attending Cork emergency services for dental trauma treatment
- The average cost of emergency dental treatment was €214.23 among injured children in a recent HSE study