Effectiveness and Wearability of Performance Enhancing Athletic Mouthwear
Fasbinder, Adrienne L.
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Performance-enhancing mouthguards are a relatively new development in sports dentistry that are purported to enhance an athletes' competitive performance by changing the position of the mandible to relieve pressure that results from clenching of the jaw (Garner and McDivitt, 2009). Clenching the jaw results from elevated stress due to strenuous exercise and can cause the release of the hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine (Garner and McDivitt, 2008). Chronic exposure to stress, buildup of lactic acid within the muscles, and the release of these hormones can reduce muscle building, suppress the immune system, limit peripheral vision, and ultimately cause fatigue (Balanoff, 2009; Widmaier et. a/, 2008; Francis and Brasher, 1991) . These factors work to decrease athletic performance. By restructuring the dynamics that occur as a result of clenching the jaw, the performance-enhancing mouthguard has the potential to increase athletic strength and endurance. This study evaluated the effectiveness of the performance-enhancing mouthguard by measuring athlete's strength. Forty-five athletes from the University of Michigan football and hockey teams underwent physical strength tests to evaluate the athlete's change in performance. Results were inconclusive and did not support the hypothesis that the athletes wearing the performance-guard exhibited increased strength compared to control athletes that did not use a mouthguard. Bacterial cultures were taken from regularly worn mouthguards before and after treatment with common cleansing agents including Listerine, hydrogen peroxide, and white vinegar. Results did not show a significant difference between cleansing treatments. They did not support the hypothesis that mouthguards treated with a hydrogen peroxide solution would show the least amount of microbial growth.