Recommend by virtually every dental professional, mouth guards have become an important part of an athlete's equipment arsenal. In fact, for a long time football mouth guards were a misunderstood piece of equipment that coaches, athletes, and parents didn't fully understand.
However, with the recent scientific research and evidence pertaining to there protection and effictiveness, the popularity of mouth guards has increased enormously throughout high impact sports.
Mouth guards have two primary functions. The first, being their abillity to capture and absorb impact energy. By doing so, the guard acts as a shock absorber when impact is made to the head area by lessening the force transmitted to the chin, jaw bone, teeth and facial bones.
The second function of a mouth guard, is to protect the teeth from direct blows caused by a rogue elbow or knee, which are fairly common occurences in hockey and football. By protecting the teeth from being chipped, fractured or knocked out, a mouth guards also protects the lips and cheeks from lacerations caused by sharp broken teeth.
Regarding mouth guards and concussions, there has been no proof that they prevent or lessen it's severity once impact is made. Since no studies have been done, it's important to understand that lack of proof does not necessarily mean they are useless in terms of concussion reduction. There is a hot debate as to whether or not mouth guards can prevent concussions the same way they prevent jaw injuries, by absorbing the shock. Further research most be done.
However, for maximum protection in football a mouth guard should be comfortable to the athlete and cover all his teeth. Furthermore, the important impact zones under the molars should feature added material to help absorb collision energy. A good mouth guard will also hold firmly in place to enable speech and breathability without having to continuously bite down.
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