Modern research suggests that no mouthguard is capable of protecting against a concussion. Mouthguards can protect against dental injury and may help with performance through neuromuscular effects. This makes mouthguards a valuable part of your sporting safety, but reminds us that it’s still important to protect against concussion using other methods.

Understanding Concussion

Concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by acceleration of the brain inside the skull. During a head impact, the brain, which normally floats in a cushioning bath of fluid, hits violently against the side of the skull, resulting in injury. A person may lose consciousness, but often they do not, simply suffering some dizziness and headaches.

The speed of the impact is what primarily determines the extent of injury caused, and in order to reduce injury, we have to cushion the deceleration of the skull, making it easier for the brain to decelerate along with it so it won’t hit against the side of the skull.

Why We Thought Mouthguards Could Prevent Concussion

The thought that mouthguards might prevent concussion was based on real scientific research. In some early studies (from the 1960s), researchers found that mouthguards might prevent the transfer of force from the jaw to the skull, resulting in reduced tendency for a concussion.

Safety advocates and mouthguard manufacturers used this scientific support to promote the use of mouthguards for their own ends. Safety advocates wanted more people to use mouthguards not just for concussion prevention, but also because of their well-proven record of preventing dental injury. Manufacturers were happy to put an additional benefit on their product.

Current Research on Mouthguards and Concussion

Current research shows that most sports equipment has little impact on concussion rates. Even helmets, which effectively reduce other types of head injury, are not especially good at reducing concussion rates. Evidence suggests that some mouthguards may reduce the risk of concussion at very low speeds, but at higher-speed impacts the majority of mouthguards may increase concussion risk.

This is backed up by large studies conducted on behalf of the Department of Defense to see if mouthguards could protect soldiers from concussive force in battle (see Akervall above).

Preventing concussions in contact sports is difficult, but we do know for sure that mouthguards are very effective at preventing dental injury. To learn more about our mouthguards call (303) 691-0267 today.