Mouthguards for contact sports: current state of use
Aoude, George Y.
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Traumatic dental injury (TDI) is a public health problem that affects millions of individuals each year. Contact sports and sports-related activities such as boxing, basketball, and bicycling are the number one cause for TDI’s. The most common TDI’s resulting from sporting accidents are soft tissue laceration, tooth fracture, luxation and avulsion. Some individuals are more at risk than others in sustaining a TDI due to various predisposing factors. Individuals are at greater risk of dental trauma if they have protruding teeth, insufficient lip closure, and/or teeth that have received restorative dental treatment. Adolescents and teenagers are known to be most affected by TDI’s because they are the subset of the population most involved in contact sports and other physical activities. Mouthguards were developed to prevent the occurrence and severity of these dental injuries. There are three different types of mouthguards currently in use. They are the stock, mouth-formed, and custom-made mouthguards. Stock and mouth-formed mouthguards are the least recommended by dental professionals, yet in combination are worn the most because of their affordability and ease of use. Custom-made mouthguards are the most accepted mouthguards by the dental community because they are the most adapted to the particular individual, and are associated with the lowest number of TDI’s out of the three types of mouthguards. Users of mouthguards are nearly three times less likely to sustain a TDI while participating in a sport, compared to non-users. Unfortunately, many active individuals do not utilize mouthguards. Non-users of mouthguards associate wearing of mouthguards with undesirable effects, such as breathing difficulties and speech impairment. The side-effects of mouthguards can be so prevalent that they can potentially cause impairment in ones playing ability. In hopes of increasing the number of mouthguard users, researchers and manufactures have continually found new ways to eliminate the negative side-effects of mouthguards, while enhancing their protective function. Researchers have found mouthguards made from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) to have the lowest report of wearer opposition. EVA materials are soft and durable, but more importantly, can be tailored to satisfy the needs of the individual. Also, certain materials and designs can be incorporated into the EVA material to better the mouthguards protective function. For instance, past experiments have shown the placement of compliant materials, such as Sorbothane, in between two sheets of EVA material will significantly enhance the mouthguards protective capability. However, the joining of multiple materials may result in thicker and less comfortable mouthguards. More recent mouthguard trials have focused on limiting the thickness of mouthguards, while achieving the same level of protection seen in mouthguards made from multiple materials. Researchers have found the insertion of air cells within the EVA material to be useful technique in minimizing the overall thickness of mouthguards, while preserving the mouthguards protective function. In continuing to meet the high demands of athletes and active individuals, researchers and manufactures must develop newer mouthguards by exploring the effectiveness of other materials, as well as finding alternative methods in which mouthguards can be made.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University