Kids could face trying times for their dental health by not wearing a mouthguard when playing rugby, says leading dental health charity.

The Rugby World Cup kicks off later this week and the British Dental Health Foundation has taken a look at our kids on-field habits – finding that only a third of our children are wearing mouthguards while playing rugby at school.

These results could indicate a lack of knowledge when it comes to the potential dangers to dental health that children have on the rugby pitch. Not wearing a mouthguard can result in cracked or even knocked out (avulsed) teeth, and with that severe pain and a lifetime of extensive and possibly expensive treatment.

Rugby Ball by Eamonn (CC-BY-2.0)

By Eamonn (CC-BY-2.0)

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, highlighted the importance of having the proper protection on the playing field:

"The Rugby World Cup is a fantastic occasion for Britain and also a fantastic arena for us to spread our safety message. When you see your team run out on that pitch, every single one of them will be wearing a mouthguard, they would think it crazy not to.

"Mouthguards for children, therefore, should not be optional; they should be one of the first things in the kit bag. Rugby by its very nature is very physical and accidents happen, sporting injuries are a leading cause of adults losing teeth. Wearing a mouthguard is a simple and cheap way of ensuring kids safety.

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"Rugby Football Union (RFU) regulations ensure mouthguards are compulsory for all players involved in rugby activities above school level, so they have acknowledged and highlighted their importance. If players over school age have to wear mouthguards then there really is no excuse for school children not to wear them."

The national charity, aptly based in Rugby, Warwickshire, say an effective and properly fitted mouthguard could cost around £40 – £50 and is something which a dentist will be able to organise. A relatively small amount of money when you consider not wearing one could lead to a lifetime of dental a work and the expense that comes with it.

custom-made mouthguard, which will fit the mouth exactly and protect teeth and gums properly. Custom-made mouthguards can prevent damage to the jaw, neck and even the brain – helping to prevent against concussion and damage caused by a heavy blow.

It is important to wear a professionally made mouthguard whenever you play sport that involves physical contact or moving objects. This includes: cricket, hockey and football – which can cause broken and damaged teeth; and American football, boxing and rugby – which can all cause broken or dislocated jaws.

"We must take cues from other nations. New Zealand rugby saw a 43 per cent reduction in dental injuries after referees were given powers to ensure that all domestic rugby players of all ages must wear mouthguards," continued Dr Carter.

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"We all take our teeth for granted. Often, it is only when we are faced with the reality of losing one, or several, that we realise just how important they are.

"Getting a child to wear a mouthguard should not also prove difficult either, just point at their favourite player and they will be wearing one, as role models rugby players are great advocates for mouthguards. You can also get them in children's favourite team colours too, so they can support their team with pride when they next run on to the pitch."

To find out more about your dental health contact the Dental Helpline on 01788 539 780 or submit your question online at www.dentalhealth.org/dental-helpline. You can also Tweet the team @dental_advice.

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