Mouthpieces Improve Athletic Performance

The Hawaii Midweek – October 24 issue had a huge feature article on our Hawaii boys playing for the Oregon Ducks- particularly Marcus Mariota, the Ducks’ starting freshman quarterback!  Looks like the UH Warriors missed out by not snatching him up this year.. auwe, what were we thinking?  While I am not a consistent football follower, some things make you sit up and take notice.  Marcus is definitely one to watch.

Hawaii’s own Marcus Mariota; graduated from St. Louis and now plays with the OregonDucks

Of course, as a Honolulu Dentist, I tend instead to follow everything related to oral health.   This is probably weird, but while thinking about football, I am thinking about custom fitted mouthpieces! Mostly as a way to protect our athletes, and their healthy teeth and beautiful smiles…. but did you know that fitted mouthpieces can actually improve performance??  Honolulu Dentist

The use of mouthguards and sports have been documented since the 1800’s when a London dentist fitted boxers teeth with strips of resin.  Dental and head injuries have increased in sports such as football, boxing, and hockey to the point that some professional to high school athletic teams have mandated the use of mouthguards in attempts to reduce these injuries.  The 2008-2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association Sports Medicine handbook mandates the use of mouthguards during football, women’s field hockey,  ice hockey and men’s lacrosse.

The American Dental Association’s Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations and Coouncil on Scientific affairs concluded that mouth guards provide a protective effect against hard-tissue or soft tissue damage in the mouth.  Injuries such as tooth fractures, lip lacerations and mandibular damage were impacted.   Honolulu Dentist

A recent trend however, is the increased use of mouth pieces for improved performance.  In the 1970-1980’s reports of improvement of muscular strength, endurance, and increased ability to train harder and recover from an injury at a faster rate with a mouthpiece, vs without a mouthpiece.  This older research however was deemed unreliable because of the possibility of a placebo effect.  

Recent research, conducted by Dena P. Garner, PhD; Wesley D. Dudgeon, PhD, Timothy P. Scheett, PhD, and Erical J. McDivitt, MS, The purpose of their study was to determine if use of a mouthpiece would alter the cortisol levels during training, and thus begin to explain the improved performance that mouthpiece users have been experiencing. They found that custom fitted mouthpieces resulted in a significant difference in Cortisol levels.  Reducing levels of cortisol is ideal for an athlete to achieve tissue growth and positive adaptations to exercise training.

It seems that one factor required to improve results is to ensure a well fitting mouthpiece.  The researchers reported that a 1991study  (Francis and Brasher) showed a decrease in voluntary oxygen consumption, instead of the increases that they found in their recent study.  They attributed it to the use of well -fitting mouthpieces that did not create any obstruction in breathing.   Honolulu dentist 

Dena P Garner, P., Wesley d. Dudgeon, P., Timothy P Sheett, P., & Erica J McDivitt, M. (2011, September). The effects of mouthpiece use on gas exchange parameters during steady-state exercise in college-aged men and women. The Journal of the American Dental Association, pp. 1041-1047.   Honolulu dentis

Dena P Garner, W. D. (2011, October). The Effects of Mouthpiece use on Cortisol Levels during and intense bout of Resistance Exercise. Journal of Strenght and Conditioning Research.

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