December 11, 2016– Does your son or daughter play youth or high school sports? Are they wearing a mouthguard/mouthpiece when they do it? If not, you might want to get on that.
New research from the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), as published in the organization’s scientific journal, athletes in sports such as baseball, soccer and basketball, where mouthguards are not mandated, saw a significant increase in the number of orofacial injuries. More specifically, athletes who didn’t wear a mouthguard were found to have nearly double the risk of suffering an orofacial injury.
Given both the physical and financial trauma that can come from a major orofacial injury brought on by a sports-related accident, there are clear reasons for young athletes to add a mouthguard the next time they take the field. Yet, while the orofacial benefits of mouthguards were wholeheartedly endorsed by the NATA, the organization was quick to note that mouthguards are not a panacea for concussions or any other brain or head-related trauma. One of the organization’s position statements related to mouthguards made their lack of effectiveness in deterring head trauma crystal clear:
Mouthguards are not recommended for preventing mild traumatic brain injury or sport-related concussion, as no high-quality scientific evidence currently supports using any type of mouthguard or mouthguard material for this purpose.
The devices also were not found to have any impact on increasing performance, debunking any potential claims to the contrary in the marketplace.
Naturally, a mouthguard has to fit properly for it to be effective for anyone, but the new findings make it clear that the simple devices can serve as a significant deterrent to potentially devastating injuries in some sports where they’re currently afterthoughts, but probably shouldn’t be.
By Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports