Volume 25, Issue 12, Pages 1593-1602 (December 2009)
Characterization of mouthguard materials: Thermal properties of commercialized products
Trenton E. GouldaCorresponding Author Informationemail address, Scott G. Pilanda, Junghwan Shinb, Olivia McNairb, Charles E. Hoyleb, Sergei Nazarenkob
Received 15 July 2009; accepted 11 August 2009.
Several mechanisms have been purported to describe how mouthguards protect the orofacial complex against injury. As the properties needed for these mechanisms to be effective are temperature and frequency dependent, the specific aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive thermal characterization of commercial mouthguard materials.
Five commercially representative thermoplastic mouthguard materials (Essix™ Resin, Erkoflex™, Proform™-regular, Proform™-laminate, and Polyshok™) were tested. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) techniques were implemented to measure thermal transitions and mechanical properties. Measurements were conducted three times per sample. One-way ANOVA and one-sample t-tests were used to test for differences between commercial products on selected mean thermal property values.
The DSC measurements indicated no differences between commercial materials for mean glass transition (p=0.053), onset melt (p=0.973), or peak melt (p=0.436) temperatures. Likewise, DMA measurements revealed no differences between commercial materials for the mean glass transition (p=0.093), storage modulus (p=0.257), or loss modulus (p=0.172) properties, respectively. The one-sample t-tests revealed that glass transition temperatures were different from intra-oral temperature (p<0.005) for all materials.
Commercialized mouthguard materials are sensitive to repetitive heating and cooling cycles, prolonged thermal treatment, and have glass transitions well below their end-use intra-oral temperature. As such, these materials are functioning as elastomers and not optimal mechanical damping materials. Dental clinicians, healthcare practitioners, or end-users should be aware that these materials are at best problematic with respect to this protective mechanism.