Should a mouth guard form part of our gym kit? Neil Photay

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  Posted by: Dental Design      1st September 2018

It’s not something that will have crossed the mind of many people, but when you look at the sort of activities that take place at the gym it’s surprising how risky some of them are.

The problem is that the majority of people think mouth guards should only be used during contact sports and other high impact scenarios, but the truth remains that a number of activities at the gym could be putting people’s teeth in danger. This is something that professionals should bear in mind when discussing the lifestyle habits of patients who visit the gym regularly.


A fitness revolution

Regardless of whether it’s down to societal pressures to look good or a growing interest in personal health, the fact remains that gym membership among UK residents is higher than ever. Recent reports indicate that as many as 1 in 7 people are now members of a gym, and this equates to 9.7 million of us who are now heading to gyms on a regular basis.[i]One news story even stated that gym membership rose by a shocking 44% between 2014 and 2015 alone,[ii]indicating how fast interest in the gym is growing.

Whilst this is good news for personal health, it does also mean that more people could be putting themselves at risk of dental injury.


What are the risks for people who go to the gym?

Of course, the risk factors for people attending the gym will greatly vary depending on which equipment and activities they regularly use. Those who predominantly stick to running machines or the swimming pool are unlikely to be at a risk high enough to entail the need for dental protection, however other gym activities carry risks that are worth detailing to patients to ensure they are aware of the damage they may cause.

The main risk to the dentition of people to visit the gym is weight lifting. Research has found that it is common for those lifting heavy weights to clench their jaws[iii]and this could be causing a number of negative effects on their teeth.

Effectively a form of awake bruxism, constant clenching and grinding of the jaw during exercise can lead to serious dental injury. The force exerted during clenching can chip and fracture teeth over time or wear them down, leading to the need for restorative work that can be expensive for the patient.

Furthermore, this constant force can cause even more catastrophic results. Robert Herbst, a power-lifting champion from the US, even detailed during an interview how his right molar “exploded” under the extreme pressure he was exerting on it during weight lifting, consequently requiring him to undergo dental implant surgery.[iv]

Many gyms in the UK are also leisure centres and have courts and fields attached where members can play sports such as football, squash and other activities that may present risks of dental trauma. Squash, in particular, is a sport where dental injury can easily occur. Due to the high velocity of gameplay, close contact and use of racquets, injuries to the maxillofacial area are surprisingly common and one survey found that out of 650 squash-playing participants, 20.4% of them had witnessed a dental injury occurring during gameplay.[v]Most worryingly, this study revealed that although such a high proportion had seen dental trauma first-hand, only one person wore a mouth guard when playing.


Protect them with a mouth guard

As with many sporting activities, the best way to protect your patients from harm is to prescribe a mouth guard.

Saber Protect mouth guards from CosTech Dental Laboratory are a particularly good choice as they are custom-fabricated to provide a comfortable fit for patients. They also have different levels of shock absorbency tailored towards the sport or activity the patient partakes in, offering an extra level of protection against impacts and jaw clenching.


Make them aware

A mouth guard may not be necessary for all patients who visit the gym, but prevention is always better than treatment. By making them aware that certain activities at the gym could put them at risk, you’re giving them the option to protect themselves and prevent the need for future treatment should an accident occur.


For more information about CosTech Dental Laboratory, please visit call 01474 320076


[i]The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Report 2017. Leisure DB. Link:[Last Accessed June 18].


[ii]The Guardian. UK Gym Membership Spending up by 44%. Link:[Last accessed June 18].


[iii]Huang, D., Chou, S., Chen, Y., Chiou, W. Frowning and Jaw Clenching Muscle Activity Reflects the Perception of Effort During Incremental Workload Cycling. J Sports Sci Med. 2014; 13(4): 921–928.


[iv]The Independent. Could the Gym be Ruining Your Teeth?

[v]Persic, R., Pohl, Y., Filippi, A. Dental Squash Injuries – A Survey Among Players and Coaches in Switzerland, Germany and France. Dent Traumatol. 2006; 22(5): 231-6.


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