Concussions and facial injuries are on the minds of parents, trainers, and coaches everywhere as children prepare for contact sports coming in the new school year.
You might think that the only protection from a concussion and orofacial injuries in sports gear is a helmet. But there is more. Read on to discover the details. Check out recent research about the amazing power of the humble but essential, customized mouthguard.
Mouthguards: Making History
It’s true that the helmet is critical to preventing concussions in children’s sports. However, there is a lesser-known piece of sports gear that might be able to claim an important role in preventing the risk of concussions in children’s sports: the custom mouthguard.
In addition to helmets, The Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute reports that “mouthguards can also reduce the risk of brain injuries for athletes.” They continued, “especially if they are wearing a custom-made mouthguard.”
Recent studies indicate custom mouthguards are more important than parents might expect. They might protect your child’s brain as well as his teeth and facial bones.
Additionally, only your dentist can create custom dental mouthguards. And they accomplish these protective missions far better than over-the-counter mouthguards.
Parents have long realized that mouthguards are a “proven method of preventing dental injuries.” We believe some new research concerning mouth guards and brain injuries, will amaze parents the world over. Likewise, we hope to see more such specific studies in the future.
Please Note: Some authorities Disagree On Concession Theory
Not all experts agree with the ability of mouthguards to concussions, and spinal injuries. Their objections are based on the fact that insufficient studies have been performed to prove the claim. However, some recent studies do at least confirm that the power of mouthguard protection goes beyond the teeth.
Mouthguard Truth and Proof
Now, “evidence is mounting that this essential piece of protective gear can also help prevent concussions. — And the mouthguard that works best is the one that’s custom-made by your dentist.”
Doctors have reported amazing statistics about the power of mouthguards and its possible protection from brain injuries and concussions. According to experts, “In some 200,000 cases annually, mouthguards have been known to avert oral injuries and cut the risk of concussion by 50 percent.” That is certainly worth knowing before your child signs up for football, hockey or soccer.
Concussions: Challenging Research Revealed
A new study published in General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, set up a grand experiment:
1. The researchers enrolled 412 players from six high school football teams.
2. They chose members of three teams to wear the custom-made mouthguards from the dentist.
3. Players on the other 3 teams wore over-the-counter mouthguards.
4. To make the study valid, all of the players wore the same type of helmet.
Concussions: Research Results Confirm the Power of the Mouthguard
After tabulating the results, the researchers reported startling statistics.
- Firstly, a whopping 8.3 percent of the athletes in the OTC mouthguard group suffered from mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) or concussions.
- However, only 3.6 percent of those wearing custom-made mouthguards suffered the same injuries.
- Finally, the researchers’ eye-popping, jaw-dropping, conclusion: “Wearing a custom-made mouthguard cuts the rate of MTBI/concussion injuries by more than half!”
Concussions: Validation for the Custom-made Mouthguard
Dr. Jackson Winters is a pediatric dentist, and a former high school and collegiate sports official. He stated, “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.”
Thus, he and his research solidly proved the previously under-recognized power of the custom-made mouthguard to prevent concussion.
Mouthguard Health: Keep It Clean!
When Dr. King creates your child’s custom mouthguard, there is one very important point we impress. From tots to teens, they must learn that mouthguards must be kept clean.
Everything that sugar bugs need lives inside that mouthguard. Dr. Thomas Glass, DDS, PhD., puts it this way. “Everything microorganism needs to survive, including food and water, can be found in a mouthguard. “
He explains, “While mouthguards appear solid, they are very porous, like a sponge, and with use, microorganisms invade these porosities.” Ask your child these simple questions to drive home this cleanliness point.
- You would not use an infected toothbrush that had fleas on it, would you?
- Would you eat with a spoon that had old dried-out egg on it?
- Do you borrow your brother’s toothbrush? (ew!)
Using a dirty mouthguard is the same as doing any of these three disgusting activities. Mouthguards are good at reducing dental and facial injuries and possibly, concussions, but not stupidity. (Laugh out loud!)
Seriously, spokesperson Bruce Burton, DMD, MAGD, ABGD, states, that we know “a mouthguard has the potential to be a reservoir for bacteria.” Such bacteria can “cause gum infections or the bacteria that help promote tooth decay.”
Symptoms You Do Not Want
Dr. King states, there are symptoms your child might exhibit if they are using a contaminated mouthguard. A dirty mouthguard can cause:
- Difficulty breathing.
Dr. Burton, mentioned above, was a high school football coach for 25 years. He “witnessed many poor habits athletes practiced when handling their mouthguard.”
Perhaps you can caution your child to avoid these habits. He saw his players:
- “Chewing on the mouthguard until it no longer serves the purpose of protecting the dentition…”
- Likewise, he observed that some athletes “throw the mouthguard in with dirty, sweaty gear and never clean it.”
Such habits make Dr. King and the entire staff at Dentistry for Children cringe. So, we endorse the following super-good habits to keep your mouthguard in prime shape for preventing concussion and dental injury.
Magic Rules for Mouthguard Maintenance
1. Firstly, always brush your teeth before wearing a mouthguard.
2. Absolutely never, ever share a mouthguard with teammates.
3. If at all possible, have a backup extra mouthguard for tournaments and play-offs.
4. And finally, always clean your mouthguard before storing it.
Remember preventing concussions and dental injuries makes every athlete a winner. Your custom-made dental mouthguard is your lucky charm—and more.
Additionally, find more about the power of the custom-made mouthguard in this previous mouthguard magic blog from Dentistry for Children.
Final Take: Mouthguards and Concussions Research
Firstly, custom mouthguards are vital to your child in contact sports. They protect the teeth and facial bones from needless injury. This is a long-established fact.
Additionally, custom-made guards are more effective in preventing oral injuries than the over-the-counter ones you see in the Big Box stores.
And finally, we must agree that more research is needed to verify recent head and spine injury claims. However, recent studies prove hopeful, and we do not want to see our children take any unnecessary chances.
In the meantime, your child wears custom-made guards to protect precious teeth and facial bones. So, we hope the claims they also lower the risks for concussions and brain injuries can be validated by additional studies in sports safety. Until then, Dentistry for Children is here to give your child the most meticulously fitted custom mouthguard possible.