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New Smart Mouthguard Could Help Detect Concussions

Even if it doesn’t feel like spring yet in Rockland County, soon the weather will start warming up and people will be itching to get active outside again. But if you or your kids enjoy contact sports, it’s important to keep an eye out for athletes’ oral health: Whether it’s a collision with another player, a bicycle crash, or a hockey puck to the face, plenty of sports can put your teeth at risk.

Mouthguards to Monitor Concussions | West Nyack Dentist

Are Sports Endangering Your Oral Health?

We’re a dentist’s office, so of course our primary concern is teeth — and sports can put your teeth at risk. Blunt force trauma can do everything from chip or crack teeth to knock them right out of your head. And even in sports that don’t seem dangerous, one accident can cause irreparable damage. (While a dental implant can effectively replace a missing tooth, obviously it’s better to keep your natural teeth safe if possible!)

That’s why a mouthguard is recommended for so many sports. From common, popular sports like football, basketball, and hockey to more unusual pursuits like horseback riding, cricket, and squash, a mouthguard can cushion teeth against any impact that might endanger them.  

You can purchase a one-size-fits-all mouthguard, or even one that you fit with boil and bite at home, but the safest option is to get a custom one made by your dentist. A custom mouthguard is created specially to fit your mouth, and will offer the most effective protection for your teeth. But when you go beyond teeth and look at how a mouthguard can protect the entire head from sports injuries, a new mouthguard is stepping up to the plate.

Smart Mouthguard Tracks Head Trauma

Despite long standing belief that sports-related head injuries were singularly traumatic, recent investigation has shown that it may actually be the accumulation of smaller head impacts over time that lead to a concussion as a result of a relatively “unremarkable” final impact. This means that rather than a concussion being a one-time incident that can’t be prevented, if head trauma can be effectively tracked over time, concussions could actually be avoided entirely.

In the past, researchers have attempted to monitor head trauma through sensors in helmets. But since helmets move differently than the skulls they protect, these forms of monitoring have proved ineffective. However, new research is focused on a monitor that moves with the skull: A mouthguard.

To track head trauma, the mouthguard needed a flexible circuit board that could withstand “heat, pressure, [and] moisture.” The circuit board is linked to four accelerometers, a proximity sensor, and a Bluetooth module so it can connect to an app. It can be charged wirelessly. Right now, the mouthguard is available to concussion researchers, but the creators hope to have it commercially available soon.

Until then, your dentist is still your best bet for the safest possible mouthguard. If you play contact sports or engage in athletics that could put your teeth at risk, call (845) 627-7645 or contact us online. We’d love to create a custom mouthguard to preserve your oral health while you play.

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