Sports related dental injuries are for real and they do account for some of our emergency care cases. But now there is a trend towards high performance mouthguards. It’s a baffling field full of contradictory claims that have left many experts scratching their heads. Should you buy into the hype?
No longer are athletic mouthguards just something athletes wear to prevent them from visiting the emergency dentist (but, of course, that is why we advocate them!). New athletic mouthguards now actually claim to help athletes perform at their optimal levels.
Performance-enhancing athletic mouthguards seem to be a miracle of modern medicine – the right mouthguard can help the entire body can function at peak capacity. Athletes who invest in these custom mouthguards says they give them 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 basic athletic mouthguards are protective and 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 more.
One type, with the Under Armor name on it makes states:
“ArmourBite® technology with patented Power Wedges™ to increase strength, improve endurance, and reduce athletic stress”
UA Performance Mouthwear mouthguards are intended to stop clenching, which is what 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.
Another marketer, NewAge Performance makes a claim:
“90 percent of the population has a bad or poor bite, which causes a mis-alignment in your body. When you have a perfect bite, the body reciprocates with better body alignment, allowing you to perform at a higher level. The New Age mouthpiece fools the body in thinking you have the perfect bite, hence the results being instant.”
It is is not yet known if they truly live up to the claims of physical benefits manufacturers want us to believe. Right now, we have to rely on the users – athletes – for our best information. For many of them, they believe it works.
Regardless if you are a believer or not, one of the most important things to come out of studies on the subject is that none of the mouthguards interfered with the athlete’s performance. The key is, if the athlete believes in them, that will encourage them to always keep them in their mouth, and that is always a plus.