Back to school blues.

Well following two weeks off as a result of the practice being shut, returning to early get ups has been a bit of a shock to the system, especially how dark and autumnal it appears at 0545! These type of mornings immediately conjures up memories of returning to school when I was a child and the panic of my school age daughter returning, having not even looked for a single replacement pencil or let alone the school uniform.

However, having seen first hand the damage and trauma (both physically and emotionally) a rogue low flying hockey ball can do to a set of unprotected teeth; there is one thing I’m always on top of this time of year; this being that my daughter’s mouthguard is present, correct and in full working order. Oh and cleaned as the little tike “forgets” to do this permanently it seems!! Lexie, my youngest is 12 going on 30.

When starting comprehensive school last year, we had a stand up battle regarding the wearing of a gumshield for hockey:

“None of my friends wear one”

“You’re too over protective”

“They look stupid”

All points calmly raised by the child who knows everything. Did I say calmly? I meant to say screamed, sobbed, humphed! Being the responsible adult and leading by example…… I screamed sobbed and humphed back, “YOU ARE WEARING ONE OR YOU DO NOT PLAY AND I WILL SEND A LETTER INTO SCHOOL ABOUT IT. END OF DISCUSSION.” (Of course, with lots of finger wagging to emphasise my point.)

She has been wearing one for Taekwando for two years without a murmur. Every pupil here is expected to wear one and is forbidden to kick and throw fellow pupils without it-no exceptions! Schools, however, are not able to enforce such a carte blanche ruling. As both a Mum and a dental professional, I would highly advise that a custom made gumshield is worn at all times for sports such as Hockey, Rugby, Squash and even not quite so obvious sports like, off the road Mountain biking. Invariably, it will be the teeth which make contact with either handle bars or ground first during a wipe out involving a hidden tree stump! So which type of gumshield is best? Now, I’m not just saying this as I work at a dental practice (really I’m not) but it will always be a custom made one over a “boil in the bag” generic mould any day of the week.

A gumshield made by your Dentist will fit your child’s mouth exactly ensuring it will both comfortable and hold firm during impact. It SHOULD be quite difficult to remove and make a satisfying suction type sound when it does come out. It will be made of a far more superior, impact resistant material compared to those that you warm up in hot water and bite down on from a sports shop. I mentioned earlier about cleaning. My daughter is shockingly bad at cleaning anything other than herself. With this track record, stupid me thought she would clean her mouthguard after each use! I had not seen fossilised pizza before but after a robust debrief Lexie was given on finding such an abomination within it, I very much hope I will not again.

To help maintain both the life expectancy, to keep it feeling nice and fresh each time you wear it, here are my top tips:

  1. After EACH use rinse with COLD water. DO NOT use tepid, warm or hot as this will soften the plastic and cause it to distort.
  2. Clean the inside with a tad bit of toothpaste on a brush to eliminate fossilised pizza from all the nooks and crannies. Rinse again with COLD water.
  3. Leave to air dry teeth side up.
  4. Custom made gumshields are supplied with their own container. This should be used at ALL times for both storage and transportation.The life expectancy of a mouth guard is greatly reduced if allowed to scull around the bottom of a PE bag, shoved in a pocket or left exposed on a sideboard stimulating the interest of the family dog!