(Centre for Dental Education, University of Edinburgh, Postgraduate Dental Institute, Level 4 Lauriston Building, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EN3 9YW)
Although mouthguards are compulsory in some sports and are often worn by rugby and hockey players, people participating in sport are not generally aware of the need for mouth protection.
Custom made mouthguards offer better protection than the 'boil to bite' type but many people do not have them because they are expensive and necessitate a visit to the dentist.
The oral health strategy for Scotland recommends that dentists promote the use of mouth protection in sport but there is no NHS fee for making a mouthguard and so children and exempt groups have to pay a private fee. This does not encourage the use of mouthguards.
Any oral health promotion project to promote the use of mouth protection should be targeted at governing bodies, coaches and schools as well as players but should also include funding for custom made mouthguards to be provided under the NHS. This might also encourage dentists to provide mouthguards for patients who participate in any sport.
Clubs should be encouraged to appoint an honorary dentist whose job would be to ensure that all members have adequate and suitable mouth protection for their level of play.