In Ireland, rugby has never been more popular and hundreds of kids are now playing a sport where a gumshield is vital. The GAA has also made moves to make gumshields more popular and it’s expected there’ll be a gumshield requirement for all adult GAA competitions very soon. Even other sports like soccer have also seen greater numbers wearing mouth guard protection as it’s simply not worth the risk. Once seen as the preserve of boxers and martial artists, gumshields are growing in popularity as the technology to produce them continues to improve.
Gumshields are shaped pieces of plastics or specialist mould which are designed to protect the teeth and the surrounding tissue by absorbing heavy blows or contact and dispersing the impact across all your teeth instead instead of one area or tooth taking the full impact.
There are usually three types
- Off-the-shelf – these are cheap and can be found in sports shops and other stores. The advantage is their price but they can be uncomfortable to wear and more importantly, may not offer your teeth the best protection.
- Boil to fit – these are also made of plastic and can be shaped using piping hot water before putting in your mouth to be shaped further. They are better than the off-the-shelf variety but the fit can also be suspect.
- Fitted gumshields – these are your best bet for both performance and comfort. The dentist will take an impression of your teeth and he or she then gets them built by a dental technician.
If someone wears braces or retainers, gumshields must be considered an absolute necessity when playing sports as these are expensive pieces of dental hardware which must be protected too.
The hardest part of wearing a gumshield is getting used to it. Whether you are just paying the bill or will be wearing it yourself for contact sports, a gumshield makes perfect financial and practical sense. The cost and pain of breaking a tooth on a sporting pitch should not be underestimated.