Statement of problem: Clinical stresses and situations in the mouths of patients are substantially different; thus, it is not possible to make an exact in vivo comparison of the efficiency of various mouth guards.
Purpose: This study developed a device and a method to test and quantify the potential of mouth guards to absorb shock and evaluated and compared 5 designs for mouth guards.
Material and methods: Strain gauges and accelerometer sensors were mounted in various positions on the maxilla and inside an artificial skull. Sensors quantified the response of several areas of the skull to inputs of force on the maxillary teeth protected by the mouth guard being investigated. Input of force was applied to the maxillary teeth with a modal hammer equipped with a load cell. Five mouth guards of each of 5 designs were manufactured and placed in position before force was applied to the maxillary teeth. All inputs were measured and analyzed and, from those results, a method was developed to quantify the relative potential of the mouth guards to absorb shock. This method was then used to quantify the shock absorption potential of the 5 types of mouth guard designs.
Results: All 5 types of mouth guards provided some measure of protection and were better than no protection. However, the level of protection provided by the 5 mouth guard designs differed.