As the weather turns bright and sunny, those of us who live in the Northwest are more than happy to start our various outdoor activities. All us here at Salmon Creek Family Dental, your Vancouver, WA dentist of choice, want to remind you about an easy way to reduce the risk of dental injury and concussions by using a properly made and fitted mouthguard. A new study from the General Dentistry Journal found that high school football players who wore store-bought mouthguards were twice as likely to have concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI), compared to those who were wearing well-fitted, custom mouthguards.
More than Twice as Likely
The General Dentistry study, which was published in the May/June 2014 issue of the clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, involved 412 student athletes from the six high school football teams. The study followed six teams, of which three were outfitted with mouthguards that had been custom-fitted and made, while the other had mouthguards that the players chose themselves from over-the-counter models regularly found in sporting good stores. The study made sure that all players wore the same style of helmet during the trial. The results were that 8.3 percent of those with standard store bought mouthguards had a concussion or MTBI, compared to a rate of 3.6 percent among those with custome-fitted and custom-made mouthguards.
Thickness Also A Factor
Though a mouthguard alone cannot prevent injuries of MTBI or concussion from happening, as their main purpose is to shield the teeth, this most recent report confirmed previous theories that mouthguards were indeed effective in reducing the occurrence of concussions. This is because a mouthguard is very efficient at shock absorption, head stabilization, and ends up effectively constraining any blows taken to the jaw or mouth region. The thickness of the mouthguards used in the study has also been indicated as a reason that leads to better concussion defense. Custom-made and fitted guards in the latest report averaged 3.5 mm whereas the mouthguards bought at store average 1.65 mm.
Mouthguards that have been custom-fitted and made, usually involve the expertise of a dental health professional like Vancouver dentist Dr. Dale Nelson, and tend to also last for a much longer period of time than the kind bought in a sporting goods store. The Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Dr. Eugene Antenucci, was quoted in Science Daily as saying, “Over-the-counter mouthguards are not fitted to the athlete’s mouth, making them less comfortable than custom guards made by a dentist,” reported Dr. Antenucci. “When a mouthguard is not comfortable, the athlete is likely to chew it, reducing its thickness and resulting in less protection.”
At Salmon Creek Family Dental, we fully agree with this assessment, and want to remind you that we can help fit your child or teen for a mouthguard, and recommend the proper care for these devices. You should give our office a call if your son or daughter is involved with any contact sport or does any activities that involve falling or jumping. A simple visit to the dentist may save you and your family the pain and hassle of dealing with the effects of concussions, while also making sure your family’s teeth stay healthy for many years to come.