Helmets have always been the go-to protection when avoiding head injuries in sports like hockey, biking and football.
Today’s helmets have an advanced design which gives parents the illusion that it can provide all the protection a young athlete needs on the field, in the rink and on the trail. But a one-of-a-kind study of high school football players indicates that a helmet worn with a custom-made mouth guard is vastly superior to an over the counter mouth guard and provides the best protection against mild traumatic brain injuries.
Interestingly, there is a significant reduction in the occurrence of concussions when a custom fitted mouth guard is worn!
412 Players Participate in Study
Following 412 high school football players, the researchers of the study published in General Dentistry, had three teams (220 players) wear custom-made mouth guards, while the other three teams (192 players) wore standard OTC mouth guards. Results revealed that 8.3 percent of athletes wearing the OTC mouth guards suffered MTBI or concussion injuries compared to only 3.6 percent of the players with custom-fitted mouth guards who suffered the same type of injury. All players wore the same type of helmets.
Of course many variables can contribute to concussions and mild trauma brain injuries, and wearing a mouth guard cannot fully prevent them from occasionally happening. But other studies have shown that because mouth guards help stabilize the head and neck, stabilize the jaw where it attaches to the skull in front of your ear (the bone behind the “ball” of the TMJ and in front of the brain is extremely thin!), absorb shock as well as limit the range of movement at the moment of a direct hit, it will also reduce mild brain trauma risks.
Another advantage to custom-fitted mouth guards over OTC mouth guards is their thickness. The OTC mouth guards used in the study were on average 1.65 mm, while the custom variety were on the average 3.50 mm in thickness, certainly an important factor to a higher level of protection. And let’s not forget that layers just like the fit of a custom made mouth guard more.
Benefits to Custom-Fitted Mouth Guards
No one can argue that the benefits of a custom-made mouth guard to prevent a head or jaw injury is well worth the cost . Who really wants to take a chance with store-bought mouth guards, when a visit to your general dentist can reassure you as a parent and protect your child? Other advantages to a custom-fitted mouth guard include:
- Lasts longer than store-bought mouth guards.
- Less likely to be damaged than the OTC variety.
- More comfortable to wear.
- Does not “move” teeth or act as an orthodontic appliance.
And the more comfortable it is to wear at practice or on game day, the more likely an athlete is to wear it every time they need it. And don’t forget that a custom fitted mouth guard is also cheap protection for adult athletes!
Tips on Taking Care of Your Mouth Guard
Taking care of your custom-made mouth guard is pretty easy to do:
- Brush your mouth guard with a toothbrush and cool water after every use. Never use hot water.
- Never leave your mouth guard near a heat source, direct sunlight or in a car on a hot day. It can warp, altering the fit and resulting in less protection and comfort.
- Keep mouth guards in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when you’re not using it. Let it dry between uses.
- Bring your mouth guard with you to all of your dental appointments so that dentist can check it and clean it for you.
If your young athlete needs a custom mouth guard or needs to be refitted for one, don’t hesitate to call us at Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC in Southfield at (248) 356-8790. We’re driven to protect your smile on and off the field.
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790