Could mouthguards improve athletic performance?
Yes, mouthguards protect your teeth during sports. But they may do much more for athletes, from improving performance to shielding the brain from the effects of contact sports. Adding to the mounting evidence of the far-reaching benefits of mouthguards in sports is research published in the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) peer-reviewed journal, General Dentistry.
Studies published in the journal suggest clenching a mouthguard:
•while heading a soccer ball activates the neck and jaw muscles and may protect against concussion;
•repositions the jaw to activate head and neck muscles, which may help weightlifters feel stronger and less encumbered; and
•modifies the airway opening to make breathing more efficient while exercising.
Sports dentist Richard D. Knowlton, DMD, chairman of the AGD's dental education council, notes that these articles help create an "a ha!" moment and lay the foundation for potentially groundbreaking evidence that mouthguards can have a big effect on posture, engage muscles and improve oxygen intake. Perhaps one day, mouthguards won't be limited to rough and tumble sports such as football and basketball, but could be a must for all athletes looking to improve their performance.
Source: Academy of General Dentistry (AGD)