Custom Mouthguards may Reduce Concussions

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Jackson Winters, DDS
(Photo: Youth Sports Safety)

May 1, 2014 - study published in the May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry concludes that high school football players wearing store-bought, over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly-fitted mouthguards.

"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," said lead author Jackson Winters, DDS, a pediatric dentist who also served as a high school and collegiate football official for 28 years. 

While mouthguards cannot prevent mild traumatic brain injuries from occurring, they help absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck, and limit movement caused by a direct hit to the jaw.

Mouthguard thickness also has been shown to be a factor that contributes to the level of protection. The average thickness of the custom-made mouthguards in this study was 3.50 millimeters, while the average thickness of the OTC mouthguards was only 1.65 millimeters.

According to AGD Spokesperson Eugene Antenucci, DDS, FAGD, "Over-the-counter mouthguards are not fitted to the athlete's mouth, making them less comfortable than custom guards made by a dentist," said Dr. Antenucci. "When a mouthguard is not comfortable, the athlete is likely to chew it, reducing its thickness and resulting in less protection."

For better safety and comfort, we recommend custom-mouthguards instead of store-bought mouthguards.  These mouthguards fit perfectly and are thicker, which enables them to last for several seasons.  To maintain an excellent fit, we recommend that all athletes bring their mouthguards to their dental visits to check them for wear and adjust them as needed.  For further information, please ask Dr. Graber or contact us.

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