Elliot Yeo still regrets removing mouthguard

Posted on 12th August 2019

More than five years after having his two front teeth knocked out at the MCG, Elliot Yeo is still dealing with the after-effects.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that the dual John Worsfold medallist is due to have another procedure at the end of the season.

Yeo’s two upper teeth were broken off after he briefly took out his mouthguard in round 10, 2014. He told us at the time:

“I was coming off a spell in the midfield; I was resting in the forward line. I wanted to get my breath back, so I took it out for a split second. That was all it took.”

The West Coast Eagles star had a root canal and caps put on before they were damaged in further football incidents. He had to have one of them pulled out in early 2017 and the other one pulled out earlier this year. Yeo has one full implant and is wearing a bridge as he waits for a second implant.

“It’s a lifetime injury, not an isolated event,” Elliot said. He believes that mouthguards should be compulsory in contact sport – as do we at the Australian Dental Association of WA.

Mouthguards can protect you from some serious sporting injuries, such as broken jaws, fractured, cracked or knocked-out teeth, cut lips and tongues.

And you don’t just have to be playing obvious contact sports like rugby union, rugby league, AFL, hockey and boxing to sustain those kinds of injuries. Even non-contact sports such as cricket, basketball, netball, touch football, skateboarding and soccer carry a real risk of accidental collision and resulting dental trauma.

A custom-fitted mouthguard works by absorbing and spreading the impact of the damaging blow, and is fabricated based on an impression of your teeth and jaw taken by your dentist.

A mouthguard that is custom-fitted by your dentist is far superior to an over-the-counter mouthguard because it’s specially designed to fit the exact contours of your mouth, is resilient, balances your bite and allows speech and normal breathing. If properly used, stored, and checked by your dentist every year, a custom-fitted mouthguard should last several seasons.

In contrast, self-fitted, over-the-counter mouthguards, which include what are commonly known as boil-and-bite mouthguards, should not be used. They do not protect the teeth, are loosely fitted, impede breathing and speaking, and can even wedge in the back of the throat at impact which could be life threatening.

Custom-fitted mouthguards, by virtue of their exact fit, let you talk normally, don’t restrict your breathing and stay firmly in place, allowing you to concentrate on playing the sport you love. You should consider it a mandatory part of your sporting equipment, no matter your age or experience.

“It’s worth it to save you spending some time and pain in the dental chair.”

If you are a club looking to put in place a mandatory mouthguard policy, you are welcome to download this form endorsed by both the ADA and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA).