Objective: The study was undertaken primarily to determine the frequency of use of mouthguards for sports among secondary school children. Information was also sought regarding the prevalence and aetiology of oral trauma; sports most frequently played; source of mouthguard; reported problems with use; and attitudes towards mouthguard.
Design: A total of 557 questionnaires was completed (an average response rate of 72.3 per cent).
Setting: Sheffield secondary schools (15).
Participants: Seven hundred and seventy 14-15-year-old children.
Results: A tooth or lip/mouth injury was reported by 44.2 per cent and 54.4 per cent of the group respectively, and was significantly more prevalent among males. Just over 26 per cent of all reported oral trauma was attributed to sports-related accidents, but the aetiology varied significantly according to gender and social class. The subjects participated in a wide range of sporting activities with 57.4 per cent of boys frequently playing rugby and soccer. Girls most often engaged in netball (15.9 per cent) and hockey (10.3 per cent). Statistical analysis revealed only a significant effect of social class (as measured by school type and location) on the sport most frequently played by girls. Approximately 14 per cent of pupils professed to have worn a mouthguard for sports at some stage, although less than 6 per cent were currently wearing one. Gender and social group had a significant effect on the reported use of mouthguards with use significantly less among girls and those from lower socio-economic groups. Overall, nearly 70 per cent of pupils thought that mouthguards were helpful in preventing oral trauma and the majority of respondents would consider wearing one. However, girls were significantly less certain than boys about their willingness to use a mouthguard.
Conclusions: In view of the evidence for the protective attributes of mouthguards there is considerable scope for promoting their wider use, especially among girls and children from a lower socio-economic background.