The short answer, in my opinion, is yes!
The potential benefits of properly-fitting athletic mouthguards and the reduction of the incidence or severity of concussions cannot be understated. There are several studies that report the beneficial effect of wearing a mouthguard to protect against head injury.
Here are the reasons:
- Direct dissipation and/or absorption of force of an upward blow to the jaw – An athlete’s jaw is clenched, holding the mouth guard. This help prevent the double shock of a blow to the jaw and the jaw subsequently jarring the head.
- Increased separation of the head of the condyle and glenoid fossa – Basically this is a separation between the jawbone and the skull due to biting down on the guard. This space helps minimize the effect of the impact.
- Increased head stabilization by activating and strengthening neck muscles. – When we clench our jaw, we activate muscles in the neck that add to injury prevention.
The next question is, do custom mouthguards protect better than stock store bought mouthguards. Again, the answer is yes! But, there has been little hard evidence until a recent study published in the May/June 2014 issue of General Dentistry, the peer reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry.
The study found that high school football players wearing store-purchased mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing properly fitted, custom mouthguards.
As we head into the fall season and our kids play the higher impact sports like hockey and football, consider the benefit of a custom mouthguard. It’s worth it!
Getting a custom mouthguard is as simple as a ten minute visit for taking impressions, and we can usually have it ready the next day. These simple and extremely inexpensive precautions will help ensure an enjoyable season, and prevent a much more costly (in multiple ways!) injury to an aspiring young athlete.