National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) evaluates equipment, but they don't have a method for testing mouth guards. Until recently, there hasn't been a standardized method of testing for athletic mouthguards at all. Here is what we do differently at SISU to make our mouthguards as safe as they can be.
In 2015, the American Dental Association (ADA) announced that they were going to offer a seal of approval with standardized tests for mouthguards. To earn their seal of approval, a company must submit material lists for review and demonstrate that the product meets ADA guidelines and ADA-developed dental standards. To date, only one company has earned the ADA's approval for athletic mouth guards and we are set on being the second.
To receive the ADA seal, mouth guards must be tested for the following important parameters:
As a prerequisite, we must certify that our mouthguards do not pose a biological or toxicological hazard. We can guarantee that our guards are free from BPA, BPS, latex, PVC and phalates.
Hardness is the measure of how resistant a solid material is to various kinds of permanent shape change when a compressive force is applied. When compared to mouth guards that traditionally use ethylene vinyl acetate (boil-n-bite), SISU's thermoplastic polymer has a higher shore hardness which makes it difficult to indent.
Tear strength is the measure of force it will take to rip a material. The tear strength of thermoset rubbers, thermoplastic elastomers, and silicons can be measured according to specifications of ASTM D624. An effective mouth guard should be strong and not break or rip with prolonged use.
The ADA requires mouthguards to be tested for how much water they absorb over time. It's important to test this to understand how much saliva will be absorbed once the guard is in your mouth. Aside from potentially harboring bacteria, you probably don't want to wear a soggy mouthguard that is highly absorbent. SISU is made from a non-compressible thermoplastic polymer that is harder than the alternatives, and therefore naturally more resistant to water retention. Additionally, SISU guards are equipped with perforations that, among other functions, allow for the natural flow of air and saliva. So, you don't have to worry about a gross soggy thing in your mouth during your games.
Impact testing mouthguards is not an easy task. As you can imagine, there aren't many willing participants ready to test the breaking point of their teeth while wearing a mouthguard. Using a pendulum impact instrument, we drop a pendulum directly onto the mouthguard and measure how far the pendulum rebounds. This measures how much energy is transferred through the guard. According to this testing, SISU outperformed the competition and is at least 30% more protective than the 4 mm EVA. Remember those perforations? Their primary function is to oscillate on impact to deflect the forces away from teeth and into scientifically engineered crumple zones. This can be seen in the image below. The high spikes of force transmitted is where the crumple zones are.
Despite a stronger push for athletic safety in all sports in the recent years, there is still an inexcusable amount of injury that can easily be prevented through the use of right equipment. It's essential to use equipment that has gone through tests to ensure its function. The ADA seal will allow us to assure our customers that they are receiving a safe and quality product.