Tag Archives: mouth guards

Dentist Claims Mouth Guards Reduce Concussions

It was one sentence in an overall press release about how mouth guards can protect young student athletes from teeth injuries. Yet, it was also an example of misinformation out there.

A Houston, Texas dentist, Dr, Lynette Crouse, recently communicated in a press release the following: “Dr. Crouse said the mouth guards are ideal for children who participate in sports, but the practice also has created mouth guards for professional athletes. The mouth guards protect patients’ teeth better than over-the-counter mouth guards and reduce the risk of concussions.”

Not true.

As we shared in the blog last month, Matt Gammons, MD, Second Vice President of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine,  said the idea that “better helmets and mouth guards will prevent concussions” is a myth.

“Unfortunately there is no good scientific evidence that helmets of any type (hard shells, soft-padded or head bands) or mouth guards can prevent or reduce the risk of concussions,” he said. “Hard helmets can reduce the risk of more serious head injuries (bleeding, skull fractures etc.) and should be worn in high risk sports. Mouth guards can prevent dental injuries and should be worn for sports with a high risk of these injuries. Helmet-add ons additionally are not effective in concussion prevention and using these will generally void any warranties associated with the helmet. Risk reduction may be possible in some settings with rule changes (e.g. no hitting from behind in hockey) and behavior changes (e.g. tackling technique in football).”

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Concussion – Three Myths

What follows is an excerpt for a recent piece by Matt Gammons, MD, Second Vice President of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Gammons identifies the following three myths:

Every athlete who sustains a hard hit must have a concussion.

Although our knowledge about the forces involved in concussion is improving we still have not found a level of force that definitely causes a concussion. At times high forces do not cause an injury and relatively lower ones may. This means that we should not overact to every head impact but also need to listen to athletes who complain of concussive like symptoms after any head contact. Because there is no known force level for concussion in-helmet devices that are marketed to consumers as “concussion alarms”, they are not recommended as they will likely lead to both over and under diagnosis of concussive injuries.

Better helmets and mouth guards will prevent concussions.

Unfortunately there is no good scientific evidence that helmets of any type (hard shells, soft-padded or head bands) or mouth guards can prevent or reduce the risk of concussions. Hard helmets can reduce the risk of more serious head injuries (bleeding, skull fractures etc.) and should be worn in high risk sports. Mouth guards can prevent dental injuries and should be worn for sports with a high risk of these injuries. Helmet-add ons additionally are not effective in concussion prevention and using these will generally void any warranties associated with the helmet. Risk reduction may be possible in some settings with rule changes (e.g. no hitting from behind in hockey) and behavior changes (e.g. tackling technique in football).

Once you have a concussion you will always be more susceptible to having another one.

While there appears to be an increased risk of recurrence in the first few weeks after a concussive injury it is unclear what factors may influence the risk of another injury in the future. Despite being a commonly held belief there is no evidence to suggest that athletes develop a decreasing force threshold after each injury. A few small studies have found the opposite. The largest risk to any athlete for a recurrent concussion is exposure (playing a sport) and since most athletes who have a concussion plan on continued participation this likely is the leading cause. Other risk factors discussed before may play a role but this is not yet defined. Management of concussion will continue to evolve as more research develops. Removal from competition and early intervention with a healthcare professional knowledgeable about concussions will help protect our athletes and allow the fastest and safest return to play.

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Research Examines Whether Brand Name Helmets Offer Better Protection Against Concussion

Specific helmets do not provide athletes with better protection against sports-related concussions, Dr. Alison Brooks, with the University of Wisconsin, recently told a site called Family Practice News.

Brooks and her team reportedly reviewed three helmet brands used during the 2012 football season.5011227045_4df2341d87

“Students included in the study were 9th through 12th graders with a mean age of 15.9 years,” according to the article. “The students – who completed a preseason demographic and injury questionnaire (with 171 reporting a concussion in the prior 12 months) – wore various models of the three football helmet brands. Athletic trainers recorded the incidence and severity of SRC throughout the football season. More than half (52%) of the players wore Riddell helmets, 35% wore Schutt helmets, and 13% wore Xenith helmets. The helmets were purchased between 2002 and 2012.

“No difference was seen in the rate or severity (based on days lost) of sport-related concussion by helmet type or helmet purchase year, Dr. Brooks reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

“Contrary to manufacturer claims, lower risk and severity of SRC were not associated with a specific helmet brand,” Dr. Brooks said.

Other Surprising Findings

“The researchers also looked at specially constructed mouth guards versus generic mouth guards and whether there was a noticeable difference in protection. Sixty-one percent of the players wore generic models provided by their school, and 39% wore specialized mouth guards custom fitted by a dental professional or specifically marketed to reduce SRC.”

The SRC rate was actually higher for those who wore a specialized or custom-fitted mouth guard than for those who wore a generic mouth guard, according to Dr. Brooks.

The “focus could be better spent on rule enforcement and coaching education on tackling technique to limit or avoid contact to the head, perhaps limiting contact practices, and behavior change about the intent of tackling to injure or ‘punish’ the opponent,” she added.

To see the full article, visit:  http://www.familypracticenews.com/specialty-focus/child-adolescent-medicine/single-article-page/no-differences-are-seen-in-concussion-risk-severity-by-helmet-brand.html

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