Head and face protection
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Wearing the right protection for the head and face is vital in many sports, especially contact sports, motor sports and those where impacts to the head are not uncommon.
Also known as gumguards or mouthguards, are recommended in most contact sports, such as rugby and boxing, as well as sports such as field hockey. It is important that the mouthguard is properly fitted to the individual so that they can breathe and speak comfortably. Off the peg, custom-molded ones which are warmed in hot water are effective in most cases. The aim of a gumshield is to protect the teeth and gums from impacts which could result in significant damage.
Helmets are mandatory in certain sports, including motor sports, cycling, ice hockey, american football and equestrian (horse riding) events. They are designed in particular to help reduce the risk of serious head injuries which could cause long-term health effects, or even death. They have been shown to be less effective in preventing minor head injuries such as concussion.
It is important that a helmet is fitted properly and is appropriate for the type of sport. Some sports require a full facial helmet, whereas others only require the head to be covered.
Nose protectors may sometimes be used to protect an injured nose or to prevent injuries in sports where impacts are frequent.
Nose guards tend to consist of a molded plastic which covers the nose and sits against the cheeks and forehead, with a strap around the head to hold it in position.
Protective googles are used in a number of sports to protect the eyeball and the sorrounding bone and soft tissues. The two most common examples of this are racket sports, especially squash and racquetball, where the small ball could easily fit into the obit.
Swimmers also usually wear goggles. This is partly to allow them to see clearer underwater and partly to protect the eye from repeated exposure to the chemicals in pool water, or bacteria in rivers, lakes and sea water.