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Compelling evidence supports mouthguards in rugby

2 September, 2005

Compelling evidence supports mouthguards in rugby

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has strongly endorsed the use of mouthguards by rugby players, citing a 43 percent drop in rugby related claims since they were made compulsory. Co-authored by four New Zealand sports scientists and experts, the study estimates ACC claim cost savings of the order of $1.8 million.

It concludes non-users are around 4.6 times more likely than users to require ACC support for rugby related dental injuries. Mouthguard use was first made mandatory in Under-19 grades of rugby in 1997, becoming compulsory at all levels in 1998.

The report compares mouthguard wearing rates reported by players throughout New Zealand in 2002 and 2003 with wearing rates collected in a Dunedin study in 1993. The number of rugby related dental injury claims made to ACC from 1995 to 2003 was also available. Players in the 2003 survey had a usage of 93 percent in games, which increased from 67 percent in the 1993 study. A lower proportion of players reported wearing mouthguards during practices.

While the report authors note differences in the way information was collected between the 1993 and the 2002 and 2003 surveys, they say the evidence supporting mouthguard use is compelling.

On the basis of the New Zealand experience of compulsory mouthguard use and the commensurate decrease in dental injuries, we strongly endorse mouthguard use for rugby players at all levels in both match and contact practice situations, they said. It is not compulsory for players to wear mouthguards under the international laws of rugby.

The report's authors are Ken Quarrie from the NZ Rugby Union, Simon Gianotti, Injury Prevention Programme Manager, ACC, Professor David Chalmers from the Department of Preventative Social Medicine, University of Otago and Professor Will Hopkins, NZ Institute for Sport and Recreation Research, Auckland University of Technology. The article can be found at:

ENDS

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