Study on dental health of rugby players
« 50% of the players could have protected themselves from a severe injury if their mouth guard was made by a proper dentist ».
For the past few months, Provale and Lucile Mathon worked together on a research project concentrating on players dental issues. This survey was part of her thesis. Here is an overview of the results.
Provale : Why working with Provale was important for you?
Lucile Mathon: When I was in high school I was studying with a lot of rugby players and a lot of them later became professional players. When I was becoming a dentist I was still in contact with them and they were always telling me about their dental issues. They told me to get in touch with Provale and this is how it all started.
Provale: What is the most interesting thing you found out?
Lucile Mathon: 53% of the players do not have their mandatory annual meeting with a dentist. As a reminder under the federation regulation, each player must have an annual appointment with a dentist and a chin x-ray. This number needs to be reduced. It’s really important for them to understand the importance of a dentist appointment.
Provale: Let’s talk about mouth guard now?
Lucile Mathon: Numbers are incredible here. 19% of the players do not wear a mouth guard during matches. For 56% of the players wearing a mouth guard, it was made by a company and not by a proper dentist. Only 19% of the total players are wearing a mouth guard that was made by a dentist. 60% of the players are not wearing anything during practices.
Provale: What are the risks for players? especially if the mouth guard is not made by a dentist?
Lucile Mathon: They have a greater risk of injuries. For all the players we surveyed, half of them sustained a facial injury during their career. Only 1,5% of the injured players were wearing a mouth guard.
Provale: What is the message you would like to get across our members?
Lucile Mathon: Players have a tendency to think that teeth are not important. I can tell you that it’s exactly the opposite. A lot of injuries are directly related to a poor dental condition. Here I’m talking about tendinitis or bacteria. Having a proper mouth guard also reduces the problems related to potential neck injuries especially if the mouth guard is made by a dentist.
Provale : Can we compare France and other countries
Lucile Mathon: Clearly French rugby is far behind. In New Zealand for instance, they have a law « Domestic safety low variation » since 1997. All players under the age of 19 must wear a mouth guard during rugby matches. The consequence was amazing they reduced the dental problems by 43% between 1995 to 2003.
Provale: Why all players are not wearing a mouth guard that is not made by a dentist?
Lucile Mathon : In my opinion, it’s a lack of information for some players and misconception for other. They believe that it would cost them a fortune to have a mouth guard made by a dentist. Actually, it’s ,only between 200 and 300 euros and they can last for 3 years. Your personal insurance can also take some of that cost. If you break one teeth it will cost you at least 800 euros to repair it.
For players who are saying that the mouth guard doesn’t allow them to drink breathe properly during matches it’s ,a totally flawed statement especially if the mouth piece is made by a dentist. They will never have such problems.
Provale : How can change players perception on that issue?
Lucile Mathon: There is a need for strong preventive measures. it’s really important for the future. We also need to communicate the results of the study to the players. They have to understand that having a dentist appointment once a year is not a big of a deal. It’s in their own interest.
Provale : what’s next then ?
Lucile Mathon : I hope we can do another survey in 2/3 years and see if there is a different trend amongst players.