– Mouth guard use has been shown to reduce the risk of sport-related dental injuries.
– The ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention and the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs encourage patient education about the benefit of mouth guard use.
– A product earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by providing scientific evidence that demonstrates safety and efficacy, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs evaluates according to objective requirements
Studies have consistently shown reductions in orofacial injuries with the use of mouth guards, particularly custom-fitted mouth guards, in a wide range of active individuals including water polo players and elite commando fighters. A 2002 prospective study of 70,836 college basketball players found a rate of 0.12 dental injuries per 1000 exposures in players wearing custom-fitted mouth guards, compared to a rate of 0.67 in players who didn’t wear a mouth guard. In a 2007 meta-analysis of 14 studies of a number of team contact sports, researchers found an increased risk of orofacial injury of 1.6 – 1.9 times in players who did not use a mouth guard of any type. A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis found the prevalence of dental trauma among mouth guard users to be 7.5% to 7.75% compared to 48.31% to 59.98% to non-users, and that mouth guard users were between 82% and 93% less likely to suffer dentofacial injuries. Coronal fractures and tooth avulsions were the most frequent injuries, and boil-and-bite mouth guards were the most commonly used type. The study emphasized that type of mouth guard may influence outcome, but that “mouth guards should continue to be recommended and used in sports activities with a high risk of dental trauma.”
Evidence for reduction in concussion rates among athletes has been less consistent than for orofacial and dental injuries. A 2002 study of college basketball players found no significant difference in the rate between players who did and did not use a mouth guard. A number of studies have found evidence for concussion reduction elusive or inconsistent, including two studies from 2014 of high school football players, one of which found a higher risk of concussion to users of custom mouth guards compared to OTC mouth guards, while the other study found a significantly reduced risk to users of custom mouth guards. Due to the lack of investigations as well as quality of the research conducted, researchers tend to agree with the ADA Councils in recommending further studies.