Posted on: 25 October 2017Share
As a water polo player, you're probably aware of the risk of injuries. However, many players are unaware that such damage can affect the mouth as well as the rest of the body. As with any sport, it's important to take steps to protect your teeth while playing water polo. Here are 2 of the best ways to do that.
Rinse Your Mouth After Games
One common way teeth can be damaged during swimming is through enamel erosion caused by chlorine. Chlorine keeps your water polo pool clean, but it can also wear away the protective coating of your teeth. You may not notice it, but water often gets into the mouth during polo games. The chlorine in the pool alters the pH levels of that water, which is what causes tooth damage. While you won't see immediate side effects, repeated chlorine exposure will wear down enamel after time. Enamel loss can cause a range of issues, from staining to sensitivity, and enamel can't be repaired.
The best way to reduce your risk of enamel erosion is to rinse your mouth out with fresh water after every water polo game. This will remove as much chlorinated water from your mouth as possible so it has less time to harm your teeth. It's important to note that brushing your teeth immediately after a game is not recommended, as your enamel may be temporarily weakened, leaving it open to damage from brushing. A few strong swills of water will do the trick without abrasion.
Get a Mouthguard
While many people think mouth guards are only needed during highly intense sports like soccer and rugby, water polo players can benefit greatly from them too. A competitive water polo game involves a lot of limbs flying around, whether the movements are from swimming, jumping, or throwing. One elbow, knee, or foot to the mouth is all it takes to cause dental trauma. One study showed that over 20% of water polo players had suffered a tooth injury (such as a fracture) while playing. The reason for this high incidence rate may be that less than 10% of players wear a mouthguard, believing it to be unnecessary.
In reality, mouthguards are a necessary part of reducing tooth injury risk. If you don't have a mouthguard, you could find yourself with a cracked, chipped, or knocked out tooth. This can lead to pain that leaves you unable to play for a period of time, and could even cause permanent tooth loss. Without a mouthguard, you're a whopping 60 times more likely to suffer dental trauma. Getting a custom mouthguard reduces the risk of injury to your teeth as well as your gums and your jaw. They're especially useful for young polo players with braces, as a knock to the mouth in that instance could also cut the inside of the lips. Best of all, mouthguards can be custom-fitted, so there's no need to worry that they'll interfere with your ability to play.