SECONDARY SCHOOL ATHLETES: A STUDY OF MOUTHGUARDS: DISCUSSION

11 Dec
2009

secondary school athletes

DISCUSSION

Because some sports (e.g., rugby, football) become progressively rougher during the teenage years, the use of mouthguards by these children should be encouraged; their value in protecting children playing American football has been shown. The different functions of mouthguards have equally been described by Stevens.

The present study has shown that football (soccer), which is a contact sport with mandatory mouthguard use in other advanced countries like the United States, is a major sport in which these Nigerian adolescents are involved. This sport, which is growing in its global interest and passion, deserves mandatory legislation for its participants to wear some form of mouth protector, especially among adolescents due to their energetic nature and tendency to be rough during games. Basketball, which is another contact sport, also scored high among the sporting activities of these adolescents. This study has revealed that contact sports accounted for over two-thirds of the oral injuries reported by the respondents. The prevalence of oral injuries noted in this study is much higher than that reported by McNutt et al.

The pattern of oral injuries as noted in this study is different from that reported by McNutt et al. and Davies et al., in which most of the oral injuries were recorded among other sports. This observed difference in the pattern could be explained by the introduction and enforcement of mandatory mouthguard wear during contact sports in these countries unlike Nigeria. In fact, McNutt et al. reported that it was apparent that oral injury had been reduced in football due to the mandatory enforcement of mouthguard use. It suggests also that the dental profession in Nigeria will need to do more in sensitizing the government and the relevant bodies of the need to enforce mandatory mouthguards use during sports, especially in contact sports. More than half of the oral injuries reported by McNutt et al. were sustained in other sports outside football due to the mandatory enforcement of mouthguards wear in football. In the present Nigerian study, close to one-third of the oral injuries was accounted for by other noncontact sports. It seems there is the need while educating athletes, sports-related bodies, and governments on the risks of involvement in contact sports without mouthguards, to also let them know of the potential for oral injuries these other sports have.

This study also revealed that boys significantly had more oral injuries than girls which corroborates the studies done by Uitenbroek and Williams et al. Equally interesting was that this study has shown that more boys than girls claimed using mouthguards, which supports the report of Rodd et al. It has also been reported that parents were more likely to require mouthguards for their sons than daughters. This, therefore, suggests a need to pay attention to parents as well as the girls while advocating the use of mouthguards in sports. canadian pharmacy viagra

The finding in this study that statistically more athletes who did not wear mouthguards sustained more oro-facial injuries than those who did agrees with the finding of McNutt et al. This study did not show a positive relationship between claimed knowledge of mouthguard and use in sports, as significantly more athletes who claimed knowledge about mouthguards were not wearing them for sports. This could possibly explain why there was a high prevalence of oral injuries even among those who claimed using mouthguards during sports. The results of this present Nigerian study suggest the need to further educate these young amateur athletes on mouthguards for effective protective services. Also, a low proportion of subjects claimed having knowledge of the three types of the appliance, while the majority confessed ignorance. This will help them to make informed decision on the type to buy as over half of them indicated to base their choices on the cheapness of the appliance.

This study did not investigate the composition, design, fabrication, and adaptation of the mouthguards claimed to have been used by these athletes, which could affect the effectiveness of the protective device. However, although understandably more expensive, type-Ill (custom-fabricated) mouthguards are the most satisfactory in terms of acceptability and comfort to the athlete, but there is no evidence that they are more effective in preventing injuries.
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CONCLUSIONS

The percentages of the Nigerian athletes who professed awareness of the need to use mouthguards and believed in their protective abilities were far more than those who claimed using these devices in sports. As would be expected, statistically more of these athletes who did not use mouthguards sustained orofacial injuries than those who claimed wearing the appliances. Contact sports accounted for most of the oro-facial injuries, and statistically more males sustained oro-facial injuries than females.

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