Topic

Concussion?

Topic Progress:

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.

 

Head stabilisation

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.

There is no science which supports the use of mouthguards in football for either concussion prevention or performance enhancement. However, there is abundant validated scientific evidence regarding the benefit of mouthguards in preventing dental and oral injuries in football. Mouthguards should be worn with the goal of preventing dental injuries, but should be designed to include those important features (proper thickness and coverage; proper fit) which might also help stabilise the jaw and dissipate forces upon impact.

Dr Paul Piccininni

Sport, Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry