Low-cost mouth guards help protect men and women during Army basic training, a study says.
The study was done at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. It followed trainees during two time periods. First, trainees wore mouth guards only for pugil stick training. A pugil stick is a padded long stick that looks like a giant cotton swab. It is used instead of a bayonet during training.
After that, mouth guards were used for four activities:
- Pugil stick training
- Unarmed combat
- Rifle/bayonet training
- The obstacle course
The number of face and mouth injuries was much lower during the second time period. During the first time period, trainees had nearly twice as many of these injuries.
The U.S. Army now requires boil-and-bite mouth guards for these four activities at all of its basic training sites.
To use a boil-and-bite mouth guard, you soften it in boiling water, then plunge it into cold water for a few seconds. Then you put it in your mouth and bite down. These mouth guards are available at sports stores and some drugstores for about $10.