Ask Your Dentist: Why Should Swimmers Wear Mouth Guards?

Dentist Blog

Competitive swimming is a popular sport in Australia, and there are around 1,100 swimming clubs around the country. While swimming is good for your cardiovascular health, the risk of damage to your teeth significantly increases while you are in and around the pool. Learn more about the risks that swimming presents, and find out why a mouth guard is so important.

Dental injuries from swimming

The average swimming pool presents a number of hazards and risks to swimmers. Hard, slippery surfaces around the pool are an obvious slip hazard, but dental injuries can also occur in the water. Competitive swimmers must swim at speed underwater at each end of the pool, and if you don't time the turn correctly, your mouth can easily collide with the edge of the pool. As such, many Australian swimmers suffer orofacial injuries that include chipped or cracked teeth, jaw injuries and lost teeth.

Using mouth guards

While most players now understand the need for a mouth guard while playing sports like football and rugby, swimming is still not necessarily regarded with the same amount of caution. Nonetheless, a mouth guard can significantly cut the risk of dental injuries during swimming.

There are several types of mouth guard available to you, including:

  • Stock mouth guards, which are ready to wear. You can buy these devices in many stores, but they are often bulky and don't allow you to breathe easily while in the pool.

  • Boil-and-bite protectors. Most sports shops sell these devices, which are made from a special type of plastic. You place the device in hot water to soften it, then place it in your mouth and shape it around your teeth with your finger and tongue.

  • Custom-fitted mouth guards. These devices are normally only available from a dentist. The dentist uses an impression of your teeth to customise a mouth guard that perfectly fits your mouth. These mouth guards offer the best level of protection for your teeth.

All these devices normally only protect your front teeth, but a dentist can make a customised mouth guard for the lower teeth, if necessary. This type of mouth guard isn't normally necessary for swimmers.

Other problems swimmers face

Exposure to the chemicals in water can also cause another dental problem. The high pH of water in a typical pool causes proteins in saliva to break down. In turn, deposits of calculus form on the swimmer's teeth. Generally, swimmers who spend more than six hours a week in the pool are at higher risk from this problem. A mouth guard can also help prevent swimmer's calculus. A custom-fit mouth guard fits snugly around your teeth, reducing contact between the teeth and chemically-treated water.

Dental injuries are common for competitive swimmers. Protect your teeth, and talk to your dentist about a custom-fit mouth guard. If you experience any tooth damage  before you can get a mouth guard, don't hesitate to contact an emergency dental clinic as soon as possible. 


12 February 2016

Unraveling Dental Myths about Children: A Blog for Parents

When I had my first child, I was a nervous wreck. Every book I read gave different advice, and I just wanted to be right! By the time I had my third child, some of the stress had abated. I now realised, there were tons of different perspectives on everything related to raising children including dentistry. To help parents, I have created this blog dedicated to unraveling dental myths about children. I am including posts that weigh both sides of issues such as thumb sucking, dental caries, breastfeeding, flossing and any other topic I can think of. I hope you find the information you need to unravel dental myths, but most importantly, I hope you find some peace of mind. With kids and dentistry, there can be more than one right answer, and I want you to be able to relax and go with the answer that's right for you.