Mouth Protection in Sports

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Kinesiology; Polymers and High Performance Materials


Participation in sports across all age-groups plays an important role in the overall health of nations with cohort studies suggesting a 20%–40% reduction in all-cause mortality among active participants compared to nonparticipants. Further, global participation in sport is at an all-time high as global inactivity rates have been shown to be as low as 17% in Southeast Asia to 43% in the Americas. Around the world, participation increases have served to elevate sports such as soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and running which represent the most popular global sporting disciplines. It is logical to infer that an increase in athlete participation creates a concomitant increase in athlete exposure to risk of injury (including orofacial injuries). Potential orofacial maladies include fractures to bones of the face and jaw. Likewise, teeth can be chipped, fractured, dislocated, concussed, and/or avulsed. The direct mechanisms that cause these injuries may also be associated with brain concussion or sports-related mild traumatic brain injury. It has been suggested, although not scientifically proven, that impact forces to the jaw may be transmitted to the base of the brain via the mandibular condyles resulting in concussive insult. Regardless of mechanism, dental trauma is a serious and global public health problem that mostly affects the youth and participants in organized sport. In addition, dental trauma carries with it both significant short-term and long-term injury sequelae (e.g., root resorption). In the United States, estimates of dental rehabilitation costs because of sports-related orofacial injuries have been estimated at US$15,000 per tooth over the span of a lifetime for athletes who lose a tooth. These types of injuries carry with them physical, emotional, and financial costs.

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Materials in Sports Equipment

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