News | Friday, 1st November 2019
How mouthguard protection can ‘save the smiles’ of sportsmen and women
Ahead of the Rugby World Cup final, researchers highlight the importance of wearing mouthguards in contact sports
In the lead up to the Rugby World Cup Final, Dr Keith Winwood and Dr Raya Karaganeva discuss the importance of wearing mouthguard protection when participating in contact sports.
The researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Musculoskeletal Science and Sports Medicine Research Centre are currently working to raise awareness of the dangers faced by participants of contact sports, and the need for protective clothing and equipment to be worn.
Mouthguards in particular reduce the risk of dental injuries and damage to the soft tissue within the mouth. However, despite the obvious benefits of wearing this equipment, players from sports including rugby, boxing and hockey, have shown a reluctance to wear mouthguards whilst training and competing, according to the researchers.
Dr Raya Karaganeva, Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University, said: “We want to share our knowledge within mouthguard fabrication and increase user compliance of this equipment by improving certain factors such as comfort.
“You often hear that players do not use their mouthguards because they are struggling to communicate during a game, they are uncomfortable or they say that they cannot breathe properly, which can affect their play.
“Our research looks at how we can make mouthguards more comfortable and in turn get more people wearing them, hopefully saving their smiles.”
During her PhD at the University, Dr Karaganeva worked with Manchester Metropolitan’s rugby union teams and other sporting professionals to see how mouthguards affected their performance when playing.
Participants of her study performed a range of exercises relevant to their sport, both with and without various designs of mouthguard. Findings showed wearing a mouthguard had no influence on breathing and muscle fatigue.
Dr Keith Winwood, Reader in the Department of Life Sciences, said: “We want to share our knowledge within mouthguard fabrication and increase user compliance of this equipment by improving certain factors such as comfort
“We also want to educate players of the dangers of not wearing this particular equipment, and what we hope to achieve is that more people end up wearing mouthguards and less injuries occur as a result.”
Researchers believe more awareness on the topic could help ‘save the smiles’ of a range of sportsmen and women from various contact sports.
In particular, they hope to educate young people on the topic so they can start wearing mouth guards at an early age, in order to get used to the feeling of them.
Dr Karaganeva added: “Having links with prestigious dental associations helps us to reach out not only to professionals who specialise in manufacturing mouthguards, but also physical education teachers, sports coaches, clubs and players who can help with our work of spreading this message particularly to young players.”