When it comes to buying a mouthguard, parents who want to reduce their child’s risk of a sports-related concussion should visit a dentist instead of a sporting goods store. High school football players wearingstore-bought, over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injures (MTBI)/concussions than those
wearing custom-made, properly fitted mouthguards, reports a new study in the
May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry.
“Researchers and, most importantly, parents, are looking for ways to better protect children against concussions,” said lead author Jackson Winters, DDS, a pediatric dentist who also served as a high school and collegiate football offi cial for 28 years. “Consumers may believe that today’s advanced helmet design provides sufficient protection, but our research
indicates that, when compared to over-the-counter versions, a custom-made, properly fitted mouthguard also is essential to player safety
The study followed 412 players from six high school football teams. Two hundred and twenty athletes were randomly assigned to wear custom-made mouthguards, and 192 athletes
wore standard OTC mouth guards of their own choosing. All players wore the same style of football helmet. According to the study, 8.3 percent of athletes in the OTC mouth guard group
suffered MTBI/concussion injuries. For those with custom-made mouthguards, however, the rate was only 3.6 percent. Previous studies have theorized that mouthguards can reduce concussion risk because they help absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck and limit movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw. “Although more research on this topic is needed, our study shows the value of a custom-made mouthguard,” Dr. Winters said. “The benefits of
protecting your child far outweigh the costs associated with a dental or medical injury, which is likelier to occur with a store-bought model.”
For more information, read the article “Role of mouthguards in reducing mild traumatic brain injury/concussion incidence in high school football athletes,” in the May/June 2014 issue of
From CDA journal July 2014.