How Mouthguards Reduce the Risk of Concussion in Contact Sports

Posted on: 7 January 2019

In addition to mouthguards minimising the risk of tooth loss, cracked teeth or damaged jawbones, this equipment also reduces the risk of an athlete suffering from a concussion.

Concussions are a leading cause of injury in many athletes around the country. They significantly affect your health and can result in long-term complications if not effectively treated. Luckily, wearing a custom-fitted and properly manufactured mouthguard can absorb impact to the lower jaw and base of the skull while you are playing contact sports.

Understanding how concussions occur

A concussion basically refers to your brain bouncing (up and down or side to side) while it's in the skull. This bouncing is caused by direct blows to the head from elbows, balls or head-to-head contact.

A concussion exerts pressure on your brain tissue and can result in many long-term health complications. With properly fabricated mouthguards, the impact of blows to your head can be absorbed and dissipated across the entire mouth. This cushions your brain from direct and heavy impact, thus minimising the risk of concussions.

There are specific ways through which mouthguards protect your head from direct blows.

1. Absorbing impact from the base of the skull

A common cause of concussions in athletes is direct blows from the lower jaw. These blows distribute force upwards and end up causing your brain to temporarily move out of position. A well-fitted mouthguard tightly cushions the lower jaw and mandible to create an elastic surface. This surface absorbs impact and prevents damage to the skull, teeth and lower jawbone.

In sports such as basketball where elbows may be flying around during the heat of competition, mouthguards protect both your brain and lower jaw from injury.

2. Absorbing frontal impact to the mouth and teeth

Another common cause of concussions is a direct frontal impact to your mouth and teeth. Such impact spreads throughout the head area and can result in broken teeth, damaged gums and concussions.

With a mouthguard equipped, this direct impact is absorbed and distributed to other parts of the mouthguard. The end result is protection from fractures and dislocations.

3. Absorbing ball impact

There are also cases where a ball can strike your mouth area and cause significant damage. In particular, a heavy impact can cause your upper and lower jaws to clash against each other and transmit force to your brain.

Mouthguards act as shock absorbers between your upper and lower jaw. By dissipating the force of this impact, you're less likely to become concussed when a ball strikes your lower or upper jaw.

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