Abstract – Background/Aim: It is accepted that sports mouthguards decrease the incidence of dental injuries in athletes, but the value of oral orthotics in the prevention of concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries in footballers remains contentious. However, previous investigations have primarily studied non-customized mouthguards without dental/temporo-mandibular joint examinations of the subjects. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine whether the use of a customized mandibular orthotic after temporo-mandibular joint assessment reduces the incidence of concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries in high-school football players.
Materials and methods: Using a longitudinal, retrospective design, data were collected from a cohort of football players (n = 28) over three seasons using a questionnaire. The mean age of the sample prior to the use of the customized mandibular orthotic was 17.3 years ± 1.9. Prior to deployment, dental records and temporo-mandibular joint evaluations were undertaken, as well as neurocognitive assessment, including history of concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries. After establishing optimal jaw position, a customized mandibular orthotic was fabricated to the new spatial relations.
Results: The mean age of the sample after three seasons was 19.7 years ± 2.0. Prior to the use of the customized mandibular orthotic, the mean self-reported incidence of concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries was 2.1 ± 1.4 concussive events. After the deployment of the customized mandibular orthotic the number of concussive events fell to 0.11 ± 0.3 with an odds ratio of 38.33 (95% CI 8.2–178.6), P < 0.05.
Conclusion: The preliminary results of this study suggest that a customized mandibular orthotic may decrease the incidence of concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries in high- school football athletes, but a comprehensive study is required to confirm these initial findings. Furthermore, additional research is necessary to indicate the possible mode(s) of action of a customized mandibular orthotic in the prevention of concussion/mild traumatic brain injuries.