Increased Athletic Performance

Using Mouthguards True or False ?

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Monroe Elkin

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The development of mouthguards in sports had been primarily for protection and safety during physical contact. The design was aimed at preventing chipped front teeth, and reducing the incidence of bone and tooth fractures. The first known mouthguard was used by English boxers in 1913.

In 1977 Dr. John Stenger working with the Notre Dame Football Team raised the theory that a physiologically designed mouthguard could have a direct effect on athletic performance. Dr. Stenger noted a reduction in musculoskeletal injuries, particularly in the shoulder and cervical regions. He also noted that the incidence of concussions was significantly reduced by the use of the physiologically balanced mouthguards.

Dr. Stephen Smith in 1978 reported on his work with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. He used bite-adjusted mouthguards, which were shown to cause an increase in muscle strength throughout the body.

Dr. Martin Greenberg in 1981 in a double-blind study using 14 male intercollegiate basketball players concluded that bite-positioning appliances did not demonstrate any change in strength.

Garbee in a 3-year study of long distance runners found that every one of the runners in the study consistently showed an increase in resistance ability, as measured by the muscle resistance test, with the use of an oral appliance. He further stated that subjective accounts from the runners, all reported an increase in hill performance, more endurance, and lowered perceived exertion.

Can Physiologically Balanced Mouthguards Improve Performance By Affecting The Musculature Outside The Face And Neck (Arms, Legs, Abdomen and Back) ?

Temporomandibular Joint

Dentists have reported for some time that bite plates and bite correcting mouthguards have shown improved health patterns, decrease in fatigue susceptibility, as well as a reduction in the incidence of headaches, dizziness, facial pain and ringing in the ears. Also, an increase in sleeping patterns is a positive benefit associated with all of the above.


The purpose of this article is to compare some of the conflicting theories of mouthguards as it relates to an increase in strength in the athlete.

Mouthguard Principles

There are basically 3 types of mouthguards. Primarily, the function of the mouthguard is to protect the teeth. Additionally, the mouthguard can also protect the lips and cheeks from laceration and injury during impact against the teeth. A physiologically balanced mouthguard has been shown to cause an increase in muscle strength and balance throughout the body.
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