Athletes have used mouthguards for years to help limit the severity of and provide protection from dental and maxillofacial injuries. But some authors and manufacturers contend that using mouthguards also can enhance athletic performance, depending on the type of mouthguard used. To test that theory, researchers at the University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle conducted a controlled randomized trial "to evaluate and compare the effect of two different types of mouthguards on the athletic performance and strength of collegiate athletes." Their findings were reported in the August 2012 edition of Dental Traumatology. Using members of the university's varsity rowing crew, aged 19 to 23 years, physical performance tests were conducted and overall differences were measured for mouthguard type, as well as athletes' overall satisfaction with each type. Researchers concluded: Results failed to demonstrate improved athletic performance while using either type of mouthguard, reflecting earlier research.
Custom made mouthguards were reported to be comfortable and did not impair athletic performance. Over the counter mouthguards had a slight negative effect on athletic performance. The researchers concluded that the use of custom mouthguards should be encouraged in contact sports as a protective measure, without concern for any negative effect on the athletic performance of the athletes.
Source: JADA Specialty Scan: Endodontics