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Dent Traumatol. 2004 Feb;20(1):12-20.

The influence of impact object characteristics on impact force and force absorption by mouthguard material.

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Department of Sports Dentistry, Tokyo Dental College, Tokyo, Japan.


Most impact force and impact energy absorption tests for mouthguards have used a steel ball in a drop-ball or the pendulum device. However, in reality most sports-related trauma is caused by objects other than the steel ball, e.g. various sized balls, hockey puck, or bat or stick. Also, the elasticity, the velocity and the mass of the object could change the degree and the extent of injuries. In this study, we attempted to measure the impact force from actual sports equipment in order to clarify the exact mechanism of dental-related sports injuries and the protective effects of mouthguards. The present study was conducted using the pendulum impact device and load cell. Impact objects were removable. Seven mobile impact objects were selected for testing: a steel ball, baseball, softball, field hockey ball, ice hockey puck, cricket ball, and wooden baseball bat. The mouthguard material used in this study was a 3-mm-thick Drufosoft (Dreve-Dentamid GmbH, Unna, Germany), and test samples were made of the one-layer type. The peak transmitted forces without mouthguard ranged from the smallest (ice hockey stick, 46.9 kgf) to the biggest (steel ball, 481.6 kgf). The peak transmitted forces were smaller when the mouthguard was attached than without it for all impact materials but the effect was significantly influenced by the object type. The steel ball showed the biggest (62.1%) absorption ability while the wooden bat showed the second biggest (38.3%). The other balls or the puck showed from 0.6 to 6.0% absorbency. These results show that it is important to test the effectiveness of mouthguards on specific types of sports equipment. In future, we may select different materials and mouthguard designs suitable for specific sports.

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