As Ashes open, check your helmets and gum shields

A dentist in Surrey is urging amateur cricketers to check their safety equipment and replace helmets and gum shields if they are getting old.

Ahead of the start of the Ashes today Dr Tom Keppel, based in Sutton, said: “Research shows injury is actually quite prevalent in cricket, which was tragically underlined with the loss of Bavalan Pathmanathan on Sunday in Surrey.

“I would urge all keen young players to have properly fitted gum shields when bowling or fielding close to the wicket as I’ve seen cricket balls do an awful lot of damage.”

Research by the University of Bristol found 24 per cent of schoolboy cricketers in England reported injuries to the head, face and teeth.

Out of four schools in England and four schools in Australia in 2009, 50 subjects from English schools and 52 subjects (25.5 per cent) from Australian schools received injuries to the head, face and teeth. The distribution of injuries between the two countries was similar; 16 players sustained loosened or broken teeth and two players reported lost teeth.

Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2002 found 19.2 injuries per squad of 25 players, per season of 20 first class Australian matches.

Other studies have confirmed this level of injury in adults of roughly one injury per player every two seasons, with a study published in the South African Journal of Sports Medicine finding an average of two injuries per player over four seasons, mostly from bowling (41 per cent), fielding and wicket-keeping (29 per cent) and batting (17 per cent), primarily sustained in the early part of the season.

Gum shields protect the teeth and gums during physical contact and can reduce damage around the jaw and concussion. Dental injuries can also occur with problems such as fractured mandible, fractured cheek or unconsciousness.

Dr Keppel added: “If a tooth is completely knocked out try and keep it moist by putting it in a container of milk so it might be reinserted by a dentist as soon as possible – don’t scrub the tooth or try and sterilise it, and don’t touch the roots.

“However with a properly fitted gum shield at least 4mm thick you shouldn’t have to worry about this – it is easier and cheaper to replace a gum shield than replace a lost tooth.”

Dr Keppel is principal dentist and owner at Keppel Advanced Dentistry in Sutton, which provides custom made gum shields for contact sports.

Bavalan Pathmanathan died after being struck on the chest by a ball while playing for Manipay Parish Sports Club (UK) in division three of the British Tamil League on Sunday at Long Ditton recreation grounds in Surrey.



Primary Dental Care, Vol. 16, 2009, p99-102: A pilot study of the prevalence of orofacial and head injuries in schoolboy cricketers at eight private schools in England and Australia

South African Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 15, No 2, 2003: Cricket injuries – a longitudinal study of the nature of injuries in South African cricketers

Br J Sports Med, Vol. 36, 2002, p270–275: Injuries in Australian cricket at first class level 1995/1996 to 2000/2001

About Keppel Advanced Dentistry  

KAD is open six days a week. Call 020 3773 5654, see, or drop into 1 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5DA for more information.

Contact – Zac Fine –, 07546 813284




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