Playing with pride and protection

JCU Dentistry students and staff are taking affordable dental health care from the clinic to the footy field, making custom-fitted mouthguards for 30 students from AFL Cape York House.

The project is supported by Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants, a joint initiative of the Australian Dental Health Foundation and the Mars Wrigley Foundation.

The 30 students received their mouthguards after a final fitting at JCU Dental Clinic today.

“The personalised mouthguards will go above and beyond the standard store-bought protection and will provide a whole new level of comfort and protection for these young Aussie Rules players,” JCU Professor in Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry, John Abbott, said.

“A lot of tooth injuries can occur in AFL, like any contact sport. Having a mouthguard certainly helps prevent these injuries, but some do a better job of it than others.

“The mouthguard needs to come up under the nose, not just to the tooth-line, to protect players from knocks to the head and jarring blows,” Professor Abbott said.

The mouthguards will no doubt be worn with pride – the students were given their choice of colours and opted for the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags.

“It was important for us to give students the opportunity to personalise their mouthguards,” Professor Abbott said. “They’re understandably proud of their heritage and they’ll look good in these mouthguards when they hit the field.”

The initiative is part of JCU Dentistry’s broader commitment to producing dental practitioners who are passionate about making a difference in underserved communities.

“It’s great to be able to show our students what we can achieve and how we can contribute positively,” Professor Abbott said.

“We regularly reach out to various organisations, schools and community groups. That’s how this whole project with AFL Cape York House came about, by visiting the facility and seeing a need. It’s a pleasure to work with an organisation that’s having such a positive impact.”

Working behind the scenes to produce the mouthguards is the JCU prosthodontics team.

“This has been a great project to be involved in,” Clinician Instructor Stephan Fischer said. “Our students have put a lot of effort in, and it’s particularly exciting to see our Indigenous dental students so passionate about supporting this initiative.”

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