The U.S. Army has developed a patent-pending intubation mouthguard that protects facial tissue compromised by burns or other injury. The Army device also provides improved protection of a patient’s teeth by shifting the load from vulnerable incisors to the more robust molars.
The standard of care for securing endotracheal tubes in burn patients has changed little in the last twenty years: A semi-rigid bite block is tied to the tube with cotton twills, which are then tied around the patient’s head to prevent accidental dislodgement. Despite the recent introduction of silicon gel sheets, the corners of the patient’s mouth can suffer significant trauma due to rubbing on the ties. The large IV volumes used in burn treatment causes tissue to swell and exacerbates the problem, which can lead to additional medical issues and scarring. Additionally, tooth loss often results from prolonged clamping of the patient’s jaws that causes incisors to erupt out of the jaw.
- Reduced skin trauma: Mouthguard design moves attachment points forward of the delicate tissue of the lips and corners of the mouth
- Improved tooth safety: Bite blocks in the rear distribute force across eight stronger back teeth instead of stressing the four weaker teeth in the front
- Better mouth access: Less coverage of the mouth makes it easier to work in that area
- US patent 8,302,597 is available for license and commercialization
- Technical design package
- Potential for collaboration with Army researchers to further test and refine the device