Patterns of Mouthguard Utilization among Atom and Pee Wee Minor Ice Hockey Players: A Pilot Study
Raaii F, Vaidya N, Vaidya K, DiBacco N, Les C, Sethi A and Vaidya R. Clin J Sport Med. 2011 July; 21(4): 320-324.
The correct usage of mouthguards during sports activities has been proven to reduce the risk of dental injuries and maxillofacial trauma. While the facts behind the benefits of proper mouthguard use are well established the issue of compliance remains largely unknown. Therefore, Raaii and colleagues, utilized a descriptive cross-sectional study to determine if youth hockey players were wearing their mouthguards correctly and, if not, why? The authors included 180 consenting travel hockey players between 9 and 12 year of age. All included participants that played in an Ontario-based “travel-level checking league,” where mouthguards were required. Surveys were completed under the direct supervision of both the coach and a researcher, following either a practice or game. The main outcomes measured by this self-reported survey was the type of mouthgaurd used, whether or not the participant correctly wore their mouthguard, and any reason for noncompliance. The results concluded that of the 180 players surveyed, 83 (46%) used a “boil-and-bite” mouthguard, 62 (34%) used a custom-made mouthguard, and 35 (19%) used a stock-type mouthguard. While a majority of respondents (68%) reported they used their mouthguards “almost always,” only 92 (51%) reported they wore their mouthguards properly during practice. Furthermore, only 57 (32%) players reported that they properly wore their mouthguards during games. Custom-made mouthgaurds had the highest compliance followed by boil-and-bite. Stock-type mouthguards had the least compliance. Older players, compared to younger players, tended to not wear their mouthguards properly as often. When asked why they were noncompliant, the largest group of participants (43%) listed a difficulty talking as the primary reason for noncompliance. Other reasons included feeling of difficulty breathing and improper fit of the mouthguard (players were allowed to choose multiple reasons).
Overall, this study revealed some very interesting results and highlights the need for more education of players with respect to correct mouthguard usage. Particularly interesting, was the association between athlete’s age and reason for noncompliance. The authors suggest that as individual skills progress, teams begin to focus on working collectively; therefore, communicating effectively is increasingly important. The type of mouthguard may also influence compliance not just because of comfort but because custom-made mouthguards may make players like feel they can communicate more effectively. In the current study, compliance and proper use were self-reported and they found a high rate of noncompliance but it would be interesting to see how their results compare to data generated by someone verifying compliance and proper use of mouthguards. What are some habits that you see in your everyday practice? Have any of your athletes expressed any of the issues for noncompliance reported by these participants? If so, how do you handle these complaints? Also, do you observe any differences in age of your athlete with respect to mouthguard utilization?
Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban