Mouthguards During Orthodontic Treatment: Perspectives of Orthodontists and a Survey of Orthodontic Patients Playing School-Sanctioned Basketball and Football

Neal Bastian 

Purpose: This study’s objectives were to: 1) examine the beliefs and practices of orthodontists about mouthguard use in orthodontic patients, and 2) survey orthodontic patients currently playing school-sanctioned basketball and/or football about mouthguards.

Methods: Fifteen orthodontists were interviewed about mouthguard use in their patients. Patients from 13 of the offices participated in an online survey about mouthguards. Orthodontic patients (11-18 years old) playing organized school basketball (N=53) and/or football (N=22) completed the survey.

Results: Approximately half of the orthodontists surveyed initiated a discussion about mouthguards with their patients. The boil-and-bite type mouthguard was most commonly recommended by the orthodontists. All football players reported using a mouthguard, as mandated by this sport. Basketball does not mandate mouthguard use and only 38% of basketball players reported wearing one. Mouthguard users most commonly reported having a stock type [football (59%), basketball (50%)]. Players who used mouthguards cited forgetting as the most frequent reason for not always using one. Basketball players who never wore a mouthguard reported that hardly anyone on their team wears one (77%), that it might make it hard to breathe or talk (74%), and that they never thought about wearing one (68%). A greater proportion of football (87%) than basketball (32%) players reported that their coach recommended a mouthguard (p<0.0001).

Conclusions: Orthodontists differ in how they approach mouthguard use by their patients, which likely reflects a lack of evidence-based guidelines. The beliefs, recommendations and practices of orthodontists concerning mouthguard use are discussed. Research directions to improve mouthguard use are suggested.

Bio: Neal was born and raised in Mill Creek, Washington.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University.  He served a mission for his church in Manila, Philippines and is fluent in Tagalog.  After several years away from home, Neal was grateful to return to Seattle to attend dental school at the University of Washington.  Over the last 7 years at UW, Neal and his wife Michelle have seen their family grow from 1 child to adding two children during dental school and now one more on the way!  Neal would like to share his appreciation for his wife for all of her sacrifices and service.  The Bastian family is thrilled to again call Mill Creek home where Neal will be joining Sullivan Orthodontics, in private practice.