Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their performance in sports. The key to be stronger, less tense and increase resistance during workouts may be in a mouth guard.
For centuries it is well known that biting on to something gives physical improvements. Roman soldiers used to bite on a leather strap in battlefields to increase their prowess. Native American women bit down on a piece of wood to ease child labor. During the Civil War, soldiers bitted lead bullets while doctors cut their injured extremity. It was the only way to go, at this time, anesthesia was at its rough start.
Dr. Stenger in Notre Dame University recorded the first formal study of athletic performance relationship and jaw positioning in 1958. He cured a balance and performance problem of a football player by creating a space between upper and lower teeth with a mouthguard. Ten years later, Dr. Smith tried an experiment in the professional football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, to discover the relationship between upper body strength with and without the use of the mouthguard. He observed an improvement in power with the use of the mouth guard.
Throughout the years, dentists have continued these types of studies. Several saw a pattern; mouth guards tend to move the tongue forward, which relaxes the pharyngeal airway. Oxygen inhaled and carbon dioxide exhaled is increased leading to more resistance.
More recent studies from 2004 demonstrated that reducing the muscular tension caused by the clenching teeth while sprinting or weight lifting can also reduce stress by inhibiting the release of cortisol hormone, also known as the stress hormone, in the body.
Mouth guards are highly recommended by the ADA (American Dental Association) for protection in high contact sports such as boxing, basketball and rugby to mention some. ADA recommends mouth guards prescribed and made by a dentist, not the mouth guards bought in sport stores and adjusted at home with boiling water. The most durable and effective mouth guard are custom fitted and acrylic.
Everyday more athletes opt to use a mouth guard to improve performance. Here at Prisma Dental, we have many athletic patients, which relieve mandible tensions for high intensity trainings like sprints, and to improve the body oxygenation for high and low intensity trainings like cross-country races and weight lifting.