Many mouthguard manufacturers have made claims regarding the ability of their product to reduce either the incidence or severity of concussions. There are generally three theories that are presented to help validate these claims. These are:
Dissipation of force
This argument proposes that a properly designed mouthguard, with adequate thickness and coverage of all the teeth, will have a large area of EVA material that can both absorb and dissipate an upward blow to the jaw.
Reduction of impact to the TMJ complex
When wearing a properly fitted mouthguard, the space between the head of the condyle and the skull is increased. At impact, this space increase may be enough to reduce or prevent any impact between the condylar head and temporal fossa.
When biting down hard on a mouthguard, the athlete may activate the head and neck muscles to the degree that – upon impact – the rotational forces on the head may be reduced and the head may in fact go through a smaller arc of rotation. These rotational forces have been theorised as being particularly harmful in concussion severity.
There is currently no scientific evidence that confirms any relationship between concussions and mouthguard use. 6 Researchers are, however, encouraged to continue to look for valid scientific data to prove or disprove this position.
Dr Paul Piccininni
Sport, Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry