Influence of different types of mouthguards on strength and performance of collegiate athletes: a controlled-randomized trial.

Duddy FA, Weissman J, Lee RA, Paranjpe A, Johnson JD, Cohenca N. Dent. Traumatol. 2012; ePub(ePub): ePub.

Background:  Prevention of traumatic dental injuries relies on the identification of etiologic factors and the use of protective devices during contact sports. Mouthguards are considered to be an effective and cost-efficient device aimed at buffering the impacts or blows that might otherwise cause moderate to severe dental and maxillofacial injuries. Interestingly, besides their role in preventing injury, some authors claim that mouthguards can enhance athletic performance. Thus, the purpose of this controlled randomized trial was to evaluate and compare the effect of two different types of mouthguards on the athletic performance and strength of collegiate athletes. Materials and methods:  Eighteen college athletes ranging from 19 to 23 years participated in this study. Devices tested in this study included an over-the-counter boil-and-bite mouthguard (O-Flow™ Max Under Armour(®) ) (UA) and a custom-made mouthguard (CM). Physical tests were carefully selected by the head athletic trainer and aimed at evaluating the strength and performance. The following sequence was carried out on each test day: (i) 3-stroke maximum power ergometer test, (ii) 1-min ergometer test, and (iii) a 1600-m run. A random assignment was developed to test all three experimental groups on each test day. Following the tests, each athlete completed a brief anonymous survey aimed at evaluating the athletes' overall satisfaction with each type of mouthguard. Results:  Custom-made mouthguards had no detrimental effect on athletic strength and performance and were reported by the athletes as being comfortable and not causing difficulty in breathing. In contrast, boil-and-bite mouthguards did not perform as well and were reported as being uncomfortable and causing breathing difficulties. Conclusions:  Based on the results of this study, the use of custom-made mouthguards should be encouraged in contact sports as a protective measure, without concern for any negative effect on the athletic performance of the athletes.


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