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Student smiling at camera Thursday 13 June 2019 3:14pm

Secondary school student receiving a dental mould

The University of Otago's Faculty of Dentistry is celebrating the University's 150th anniversary by donating 150 custom-fitted mouthguards to schools and promoting the use of mouthguards among students when playing sport.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Divison of Health Sciences Professor Paul Brunton explains the Faculty of Dentistry considered the initiative was a practical way to drive home the message about the use of mouthguards.

Professor Paul Brunton (2019)
Professor Paul Brunton.

“Up to 39 per cent of sports injuries are dental-related yet many of our young people continue not to wear a mouthguard when they play sport and practice,” Professor Brunton says.

“We thought this was an ideal time to promote the use of mouthguards, while giving something back to communities as well.”

The University sent out posters about mouthguard use to all secondary schools in the country and organised a video competition, encouraging students to make a short video advocating why mouthguards should be used. The winners receiving custom-fitted mouthguards for one of their school's sports teams.

The successful schools receiving the 150 custom-fitted, University of Otago branded mouthguards are: Western Heights College and John Paul College (both Rotorua), Wellington East Girls' College, Linwood College (Christchurch), Kaikorai Valley High School (Dunedin) and South Otago High School (Balclutha).

The video from Western Heights College particularly struck a chord with University of Otago staff with student Leo Penn outlining his plight of a missing tooth after not wearing a mouthguard while playing rugby. In the video Leo encourages his peers to wear a mouthguard when playing sport.

Professor Brunton says Faculty of Dentistry staff have since been working with Leo and his family to help him receive the appropriate dental care he needs.

South Otago High School Teacher in Charge of Rugby, Jason Palmer, says his school was pleased to be involved in the project.

“It helps raise awareness around why mouthguards are essential in contact sport and it was also recognition for our media students who put together the video for the competition,” Mr Palmer says.

“The families of some of the students involved would struggle to pay for a custom-fitted mouthguard, so it means a lot for families as well as for South Otago High School.”

University of Otago staff are currently visiting schools and taking an impression of students' mouths for the mouthguards to be made.  They are being modelled in the Faculty of Dentistry's production lab and will be delivered to schools later this month.

Dental mould

Meanwhile, the University of Otago officially opened its new hospital-level patient-treatment building for New Zealand's only national centre for dentistry on Tuesday 11 June.

The faculty performs about 76,000 dental treatments annually for the public from around the South Island.

Years in the planning and design, the new Clinical Services Building houses specialty and teaching clinics, the Primary Care Unit, radiography and surgical suites.

The University is also establishing a dental base in Auckland with development of a new NZ$28.3 million dental teaching facilty and patient treatment clinic in South Auckland.

Professor Brunton says the new dental clinic aims to help meet high health needs, while providing students with wide-ranging learning opportunities in a diverse community that will increase their understanding of people from a range of backgrounds.

Key messages about mouthguard use in sport:

  • If you play any contact sport, you need a mouthguard
  • Always wear a mouthguard when you play and practice sport
  • Mouthguards protect the teeth and jaws
  • Mouthguards also help to reduce the risk of concussion

Leo and his peers at Western Heights College

For further information, contact:

Professor Paul Brunton
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Division of Health Sciences

Liane Topham-Kindley
Senior Communications Adviser
Tel +64 3 479 9065
Mob +64 21 2769 9065

Electronic addresses (including email accounts, instant messaging services, or telephone accounts) published on this page are for the sole purpose of contact with the individuals concerned, in their capacity as officers, employees or students of the University of Otago, or their respective organisation. Publication of any such electronic address is not to be taken as consent to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages by the address holder.

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