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Tips for Cincinnati residents on concussion prevention and choosing athletic mouthguards

Cincinnati is a sports town! Seven leading sports venues call it home. We have 2 major league teams, 11 minor league lineups, and 5 colleges each with their own athletic departments. Thousands of children in primary and high school aspire to represent Cincinnati as collegiate and professional athletes. The doctors and staff at West Chester Dental Group want to help all of them stay healthy with information on concussion prevention using athletic mouthguards.

What is a mouthguard?
Mouthguards go by many names including mouthpiece, mouth protector, gumguard, gumshield, and bite plane. Regardless of the moniker, a mouthguard is a device that covers teeth and gums with flexible polymer.

What types of mouthguards are available?
You typically have three choices in mouthguards. The least expensive is a stock mouthguard, available at sporting goods and discount stores. This type comes in a few sizes, but because the fit is questionable, it is only marginally effective in preventing injuries and isn’t comfortable, so probably won’t be worn consistently.

The boil-and-bite variety is also widely available. It is made of thermoplastic material. You heat it in warm water, insert it, and bite down for a slightly more adapted fit. This type may be trimmed with scissors for further customization.

A custom-made mouthguard is created by a qualified dentist from precise impressions of your mouth. It fits comfortably, allowing normal swallowing, breathing, and speech. Because it fits so well, a custom mouthguard stays in place for optimal protection.

What is the purpose of a mouthguard?
It provides dental trauma protection for lips, gums, teeth, and bone arches, and reduces risk and severity of traumatic brain injury. Mouthguards should be worn by adults and children during contact sports and any activities with risk of fall or trauma.

How can a mouthguard reduce the risk of concussion?
A concussion is a jolt or blow to the head that changes the way the brain functions. That sudden force causes soft tissues of the brain to come into abrupt contact with the hard bone of the skull. Those tissues, neurons, and nerve pathways are bruised, torn, or swell. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, confusion, headache, lack of coordination, and weakness may occur right away or over the days and weeks following injury. A second incident before the brain has healed can be quite serious.

Medical research indicates that a mouthguard reduces intracranial pressure waves from impact by about 50 percent. Especially for impact at the lower jaw, a mouthguard reduces acceleration of the brain against the skull.

Wearing a mouthguard is a simple precaution to protect your mouth and your brain. Contact West Chester Dental Group at 513-942-8181 to learn more about injury protection with custom fit mouthguards.

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