Effects of mouthguards on vertical dimension, muscle activation, and athlete preference: A prospective cross-sectional study

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General Dentistry


Mandibular repositioning and subsequent neuromuscular signaling are proposed mechanisms of action for commercial mouthguards marketed for performance enhancement. A prospective cross-sectional study of 24 healthy adult weightlifters with normal occlusal relationships was designed to determine whether 2 self-fit performance mouthguards; a custom-fabricated, bilaterally balanced, dual-laminated mouthguard; and no mouthguard (control) differed in their effects on vertical dimension, muscle activation, and user preference during a 75% maximum power clean lift. Each subject was tested for each of the mouthguard categories: Power Balance POWERUP, Under Armour ArmourBite, custom, and no mouthguard. Interocclusal distance was measured at baseline and with each mouthguard. Mean and peak activity of the anterior temporalis, masseter, sternocleidomastoid, and cervical paraspinal muscles was measured during sitting and during a 75% maximum power clean lift. A mouthguard preference questionnaire was completed. Analyses were conducted to determine whether interocclusal distance differed among mouthguard type and to examine the effect of mouthguard type on mean and peak muscle activation during the clean lift. Interocclusal distance was affected by mouthguard type (P = 0.01). Mean and peak activity of the anterior temporalis and masseter muscles and mean activity of the sternocleidomastoid muscle differed among mouthguards (P < 0.05). Mouthguard type did not influence muscle activation of the cervical paraspinal muscle group. Overall, the Power Balance mouthguard produced more muscle activity. Participants preferred custom mouthguards nearly 2:1 over self-fit performance mouthguards (P = 0.05). Participants perceived that they were stronger and were less encumbered when using a custom mouthguard during submaximum power clean lifts.

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