Back in November I took on the mouth gear issue by showing some emails that I had with a few of the prominent companies invested in oral/facial protection. I use the term “mouth gear” to isolate any device that is placed in your mouth, this is a very hot topic, especially since the football season is about to begin. If you have read that post you know my stance on the issue at hand; buyer beware.
Lets begin with some video footage of athletes wearing mouth gear;
- The first KO is textbook mechanism of injury that the mouth gear companies say they can protect against; a blow to the jaw, where the jaw bone (mandible) would slam into the skull.
- The third KO is a blow to the jaw, in a rotational axis, again companies claim they can protect against concussive injuries when a blow is received on the jaw.
- The fourth KO is a straight right to the jaw.
- The fifth KO a left to the jaw in a rotational axis.
- Should I keep going???? I think you get the point.
It’s not so much that the companies in question (BTW if you have not noticed I have not mentioned them, on purpose do not want them getting web traffic) are promoting a revolutionary way to protect the jaw, face or teeth. Rather, it is the insinuation of the marketing that makes these products seem as though they will prevent or even decrease concussive episodes. This example came from an email blast;
Q. Can mouth guards help prevent this from happening?
A. Single arch mouth guards can not secure the lower jaw. If they are upper only or lower only the jaw will be able to move freely and slam the base of the skull upon impact. However a dual arch mouth guard will secure the jaw and prevent these forces from reaching the TMJ and base of the skull.
This answer alone is not untruthful, mouth gear can do that, but the previous questions on the electronic flyer were about concussions; leading the reader, mainly uninformed about concussions, to think that mouth gear can prevent concussions. This type of marketing has been recent, before these companies were much more blatant with the claims. Let us examine this exact text from a press release of another company;
Many think a mouth guard is effective just to protect the teeth. But studies have shown mouth guards can reduce lower jaw impact that causes concussions. A dual arch mouth guard, like (insert company)’s line of performance mouth guards, is the best concussion defense for inside your mouth. Unlike traditional mouth guards that offer protection for either the upper or lower teeth only, (product) is a dual arch or bi-molar mouth guard. It stabilizes the jaw into a neutral position, creating a safety space at the base of the skull that greatly reduces the risk of jaw-impact concussions, TMJ injuries, and injuries caused by hits to the face mask.
This claim is again accurate, but the tenor of the passage is of concussion protection, very few people understand what “jaw joint” issues are and how little if ANY forces from the jaw hitting the base of the skull are part of the concussion process. As we have explained before it is a matter of Physics. If the mouth gear can stop the jaw from slamming the skull, good, but can it or will it stop the head from sudden acceleration or deceleration? NO! Can it stop the brain from moving inside the skull? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
A quick side note/comment, there are a lot of litigation type firms that have videos about mTBI and concussions, if there is a massive issue there, why don’t these mouth gear companies try to sell their products to every driver, using logic they could reduce all concussions/mTBI in car accidents, no?
In another companies website they have a “testimonial” from a current professional football player;
“I previously had 3 concussions. I started wearing the Maher Mouth Guard 3 years ago and have not had a concussion since. I feel very comfortable wearing The Maher Mouth Guard and recommend it for any contact sport. It is perfect!” -Assante Samuel, New England Patriots.
As we have previously noted Samuel was in fact listed with a concussion Week 5 last year, if that is not miss leading I don’t know what is. You would have thought that after pointing this out last November that this company would have made the change, nope. Maybe sometime soon.
Our very own John Gonoude was a victim of a marketing sham by a company that claimed they could stop concussions. His family spent a good amount of money on a “concussion prevention” mouth device, only to be wearing that exact product the day he received the final brain insult that ended his career. John has stated that he and his family were “duped” by those selling the device, and he is afraid of other people falling victim to the same problem.
As you can see in the boxing examples and this one;
A concussion is due to the forces applied to the head as a whole; sudden acceleration, deceleration or rotational (or combination there of) forces create the injury, having mouth gear cannot do anything to decrease this from happening. Let me also add that there are ZERO published studies that show definitively that mouth gear can do it.
Mouth gear is very good for prevention of oral, facial and even the TMJ injuries that can occur in sports, however the CANNOT and WILL not prevent a concussion from occurring. You will most likely see a response or literature alluding to a “jaw joint concussion”, as mentioned above, this is completely different in nature and does not represent the concussion injury you know and read about on a daily basis. All of the hits below would and could result in dysfunction of normal brain function, WITH OR WITHOUT mouth gear.
There are other mouth gear companies that have taken the right route of not parlaying the concussion issue into a marketing ploy, they market their product for what it is, a mouth guard. Even one company pledged to me that they were going to change their packaging and website to remove the insinuation that their product can reduce concussions. As far as I can tell they, TapouT Mouthguard, has done just that, a huge expense and the right choice (if you notice an error send them an email, or me and I will get it to them), for this reason this is the now recommended mouth gear of TCB and me as an athletic trainer (this endorsement is on free will).