A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at whether using mouth guards during play could reduce the risk of concussion in children playing ice hockey. Cases were hockey players who were concussed during either a game or practice and controls were players who had an injury during a practice or a game. There were 315 cases of concussion and 270 cases of nonconcussion injury.
At the time of injury, 236 children who became concussed (either physician-diagnosed or therapist-suspected concussion) were wearing a mouth guard and 224 of the children who had nonconcussion injuries were wearing a mouth guard. Any mouth guard use was linked with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for concussion of 0.36 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.17-0.73). When divided into type of mouth guard, researchers found that dental custom-fit mouth guards had a nonsignificant 49% odds of concussion (aOR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.22-1.10). Meanwhile, off-the-shelf mouth guards were associated with 69% lower odds of concussion (aOR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.14-0.65). The investigators concluded that using mouth guards during play did reduce the chances of concussion. They stated that wearing a mouth guard should be a requirement for all players in ice hockey leagues for children and adolescents.