High school American Football players, who wore over-the-counter mouthguards, were twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing custom-made and properly fitted mouthguards, according to a new study.

The study followed 412 players. Half of them wore shop bought mouthguards, while the rest wore customised mouthguards.

Researchers found that 8.3 percent of the players with shop bought mouthguards suffered concussions, while less than half of those with customised mouthguards (3.6 percent) experienced a concussion.

A contributing reason may be the thickness of the mouthguards. Researchers found that the average thickness of shop bought mouthguards is 3.5mm, while customised mouthguards are on average 1.65mm thick.

“Although more research on this topic is needed, our study shows the value of a custom-made mouthguard,” says lead author Dr. Jackson Winters. “The benefits of protecting your child far outweigh the costs associated with a dental or medical injury, which is likelier to occur with a store-bought model.”

AGD Spokesperson Eugene Antenucci provided the following tips for maintaining your mouthguard.

1. After each use, brush your mouthguard with a toothbrush and cool (not hot) water.
2. Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use.
3. Don’t leave your mouthguard in direct sunlight or in a hot car.
4. Bring your mouthguard with you when you visit your dentist. He can give your mouth-guard a proper cleaning and check its structure and fit.