Many children and young adults are involved in contact sports, such as football, even baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and other sports. Very often, their coach recommends a boil and bite type of mouth guard to protect their teeth and help prevent concussion. Studies have shown that the boil and bite type of mouth guard that you may purchase at a sporting goods store is actually worse in terms of tooth loss and concussion than having nothing at all. Most coaches do not realize this and recommend this type of mouth guard. Parents should instead visit their dentist for a custom made mouth guard.
High school football players wearing sporting good store bought mouth guards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries or MTBI/concussions than those who had a custom appliance made by their dentist. Studies have also shown that wearing a custom made mouth sports guard will also prevent tooth loss, whereas a boil and bite type of mouth guard is actually worse than having nothing at all.
Parents may believe that today’s advanced helmet design provides sufficient protection, but research indicates that, when compared to over the counter versions, a custom made, properly fitted mouth guard is essential to player safety.
The study followed 412 players from six high school football teams. Half of the athletes wore a custom made mouth guard and half wore a over the counter type. All students wore the same helmet. The custom mouth guard prevented over half of the concussion injuries. This study did not test tooth loss from a contact injury.
Previous studies have theorized that mouth guards can reduce concussion risk because they help absorb shock, stabilize the head and neck and limit movement caused by a hit to the jaw.
The benefits of protecting your child far outweigh the lifetime costs associated with a dental or medical injury, which is likelier to happen with a store bought guard.