Increased Athletic Performance

Using Mouthguards True or False ?

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Monroe Elkin

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More research needs to be done to determine if, in fact, changing the position of the jaws can change an individual's strength. On a practical level, we cannot overlook the psychological aspects of increasing performance. It is my belief that if an athlete suspects that he or she will have an increase in performance, they will. Using a weight-lifter to test this theory has shown that the belief that lifting an extra 25 lbs. is possible with an mouth appliance inserted resulted in that positive response. Can a mouthguard which balances the bite really increase performance? Or is the result of increased performance due to allowing connecting musculature to function at maximum capacity without any interference. Athletes who claim increased performance relate "feeling stronger and being more relaxed." Personal communication with Andrew Valmon, the Olympic Gold Medallist in the 4x400 relays, revealed that when accelerating he attempts to not clench his teeth. A high school wrestler who wore orthodontic braces had difficulty during his matches while wearing a boil-and-bite type mouthguard. After being fitted for a custom mouthguard, he went on to win his next six matches. He related to me that he felt stronger and was able to concentrate on the match and not on his mouth.


At the present time a definitive answer to the question proposed by this article cannot be made. There are numerous articles both pro and con as to increased athletic performance with mouthguard. Doing objective studies are difficult, thus leaving results somewhat questionable. If, in fact, the premise that increased athletic performance can improve by using a mouthguard, the further development of the ideal mouthguard needs to be pursued.

  1. Stenger JM. Physiologic Dentistry with Notre Dame athletes. Basal Facts 1977;2:8-18
  2. Smith SD. Muscular strength correlated to jaw posture and the temporomandibular joint. NY State Dent J 1978;44(7):279-282
  3. Greenberg MS, Cohen SG, Springer P. et al.: Mandibular position and upper body strength: A controlled clinical trial. JADA 1981;103:576-579.
  4. Garabee WF. Craniomandibular orthopedics and athletic performance in the long distance runner: A three-year study. Basal Facts 1981;4(3):77-79
  5. Smith SD. Sports Dentistry: Protection and Performance from Mouthguards and Bite Splints. Athletic Training 1981; Summer:100-106.


Monroe Elkin D.M.D.
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