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Athletic Performance Mouthguards: Hype or Fact?

November 19th, 2009 · No Comments

upper body strengthPerformance-enhancing athletic mouthguards, like the popular Pure Power Mouthguard and Under Armour Performance Mouthwear, seem to be a miracle of modern medicine. The premise is, the right mouthguard can help the entire body can function at peak capacity. Athletes who invest in these custom mouthguards make claims of improved focus, balance, endurance, and strength. Pro athletes, in sports ranging from golf to boxing to football, have turned to these appliances for an edge over competitors.

Your run-of-the-mill athletic mouthguards are protective in nature. They distribute impact to reduce the severity or occurrence of injuries, such as mouth cuts, concussions, and tooth damage. Over-the-counter boil-and-bite varieties offer this protection at a minimal cost to the user. The new-and-improved varieties do this… and claim more.

The Pure Power Mouthguard is based on neuromuscular dentistry. A recent article in USA Today, “Neuromuscular mouth guard draws performance debate,” tackles the controversy of whether these mouthguards have actual physical benefits, or if the psychological benefits are what fuel their success. Neuromuscular mouthguards reposition the bite to improve overall performance. This interesting article features stories and quotes from professional athletes who have used or currently use the appliances.

Dental Economics relates the philosophy behind UA Performance Mouthwear in the article, “Patterson Dental teams up with Under Armour,” (Aug. 13, 2009). The UA moutguards are intended to stop clenching, an action that triggers the body to overproduce stress hormones such as cortisol, which decreases strength and muscle growth. Cortisol is known to regulate the immune response, but chronic overproduction can have significant negative effects on the body. Athletes and women in their third trimester of pregnancy tend to produce higher levels of cortisol. But even coffee consumption can increase a person’s cortisol level.

Because performance-improving athletic mouthguards are fairly new, it is not yet known whether the physical benefits are all that manufacturers want us to believe. At present, we must rely on the users – the athletes – for our best information. And if it works, whether physically or psychologically, why question it?

Tags: Clinical

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