One question we are most often asked by parents of athletes or those who participate in physical sports is, “Do mouthguards really work?” And when we respond, “yes,” a common follow-up question is, “Is there any scientific evidence to support this claim?” Based on this scenario, we feel it is important to provide you with some interesting and evidence-based facts on this topic.
The first reported use of mouthguards was in the sport of boxing. And because participants and bystanders in the 1920s quickly witnessed their effectiveness even back then, the trend's popularity grew to the point that boxing became the first professional sport to require them. However, other sports soon started following this lead — especially those high-contact sports. The American Dental Association (ADA) started mandating the use of mouthguards for football in 1962 and the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) currently requires mouthguards for football, ice hockey, lacrosse and field hockey. The ADA has since expanded their recommendations to now include 29 different sports and exercise activities. So now that you know more about the professional organizations pushing the use of mouthguards, let's get back to the second question, “What's the evidence?”
There have been numerous studies over the years regarding the properties of mouthguards, and more specifically their shock absorbing capabilities. Other studies have been based upon their protective abilities due to their stiffness, hardness and strength. This research has enabled us to vastly improve upon the effectiveness of mouthguards. For example, years ago latex rubber was a popular material used to create mouthguards. However, today we use products such as ethylene vinyl acetate or polyurethane because they are far superior in durability and flexibility. And impact studies have shown that the chances of fracturing teeth is dramatically reduced when wearing one of these mouthguards...especially when compared to individuals wearing no mouthguard at all. In fact, research has revealed that by not wearing a mouthguard during physical sports or exercise, individuals are 60 times more likely to experience an injury to the mouth and/or teeth.
To learn more about the importance of protective mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about mouthguards.