Does Wearing a Mouthguard Prevent Concussions?

The reality is clear for participants of contact sports; injuries that result in a concussion could potentially end their sporting career and have serious health consequences. Preventing sports-related injuries is achieved when the proper equipment is used during play.

This article discusses whether mouthguards protect against concussions as well as other research on concussions.

mouthguard on cricket player
Michael Dodge / Getty Images

Does Wearing a Mouthguard Prevent Concussions? 

The number of sports-related concussions sustained every year is distressing. The University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery states that in the United States alone 300,000 sports-related concussions occur annually, and the likelihood of suffering a concussion while playing a contact sport is estimated to be as high as 19% per year of play.

Wearing a mouthguard while participating in contact sports was once thought to prevent the occurrence of sustaining a concussion. On January 17, 2009, statements made by top neurological experts dismissed this, claiming that no credible research backs this idea, further confusing parents and players on the validity of mouthguard wear.

The NHL and Concussion Research 

As with most topics of debate related to medical research, Dr. Bill Blair, a dentist and the current president of the NHL Team Dentists Association, puts the issue into perspective stating that “We are just learning an awful lot about concussion right now. In fact the NHL, I would say, is at the pinnacle of the knowledge that has been gained through concussion research. They have done a great deal of research over the last 10 years; they have a great deal of information.”

Warren Peters, a center for the Calgary Flames, suffered an injury to his mouth during a fight on the ice. Not wearing a mouthguard at the time of his injury, Peters admits he still forgets to wear his mouthguard, even though he realizes it may have prevented the loss of his teeth. When questioned about the importance of keeping his natural teeth, he expressed mixed feelings on the issue, stating, "Fortunately I am a guy that hasn't had concussion problems and maybe that is something I would need towards wearing one, and not so much losing a tooth."​

Jamie Lundmark, also a center for the Calgary Flames, wears a mouthguard for every game he plays. Like most players, his impression of a mouthguards' protection is based on concussion prevention. He says, "I think it helps concussion injuries, biting down on [a mouthguard] takes pressure off the jaw and the shock to the brain."

Though there may not be adequate research linking mouthguards to concussion prevention, Dr. Blair reiterated the consensus of most players in the NHL; "It is easier for us to sell the wearing of mouthguards to a professional hockey player based on concussion prevention, than of tooth injury."

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Concussions. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Neurological Surgery [internet].

  2. Mccrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med. 2013;47(5):250-8. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092313

Additional Reading
  • Shawn Watson Interview with Dr. Bill Blair.

  • Shawn Watson Interview with Jamie Lundmark.

  • Shawn Watson Interview with Warren Peters.

  • Concussions and the Mouthguard Myth. 
  • University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery. "Sports-Related Concussions: Background and Significance"

By Shawn Watson
Shawn Watson is an orthodontic dental assistant and writer with over 10 years of experience working in the field of dentistry.