As athletes, we often think of mouthguards as a safety precaution above all else. After all, the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that custom-fitted mouth guards can significantly reduce the rate of orofacial injuries, including tooth avulsions and fractures, in contact sports. Safety alone is a good enough reason for athletes to purchase and consistently wear a properly fitting moldable mouth guard, but there are other motives to get serious about this underrated piece of sports safety gear.
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In addition to shielding athletes from injuries, mouth guards can also help boost athletic performance by keeping them comfortable, alert and focused during high-stakes gameplay. Here are some specific ways sports mouth guards can enhance athletic performance:
1. They May Enhance Force and Power – While more research is needed, studies show that wearing a mouth guard can increase neuromuscular force and power production in sports, meaning it might make you throw harder, jump higher and run faster. Researchers haven’t pinned down exactly why this is, but they believe it has something to do with the mouth guard’s ability to help stabilize the head and neck through clenching the jaw. With virtually no downsides to wearing one, this is a simple thing you can do to boost performance when you’re ramping up efforts for a big competition.
2. They’re More Comfortable – We all know that an uncomfortable piece of apparel or gear can be extremely distracting when the focus needs to be elsewhere — on making a smart play or supporting teammates. A good-fitting guard should feel natural in your mouth, so you’re not tempted to adjust it or take it out when you need to be focused on the game.
3. They Don’t Prevent Communication – Mouth guards that are too big or too small tend to prevent athletes from being able to speak, which can inhibit communication between teammates and coaches. As we all know, verbal and non-verbal communication is critical to success in sports like football, soccer and field hockey, so it’s important to make sure your guard doesn’t hinder speech. When you can’t speak, you’re also more likely to remove the guard and not replace it after plays or matches.
4. They Help You Breathe Better – A custom-fitted sports mouth guard, such as our PRO Mouth Guard, is uniquely designed to provide protection without blocking airways and preventing proper breathing. Whether during vigorous gameplay or training for a big match, proper breathing can keep you performing at your best. In fact, studies show that breathing properly can improve sports performance by 15 percent, so this is definitely not something to inhibit.
5. They Keep You from Getting Dehydrated – Athletes need to stay hydrated to properly regulate temperature and keep joints lubricated. Not getting the recommended amount of water during physical exercise can lead to dehydration — and, with it, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, fast heartbeat and more discomfort — which will inhibit sports performance. A high-quality, custom-fitted mouth guard allows you to easily drink from your water bottle without issue, so you stay hydrated throughout practice and games.
6. They Keep You Off the Sidelines – Ultimately, all athletes need to protect their bodies or risk injuries that could keep them out of the game. Traumatic orofacial injuries are responsible for benching many athletes each year, causing them to miss out on key matches and even entire seasons. Custom mouth guards help ensure that you feel your best during practice and big games so you’re able to support your team and push personal performance to the next level.
7. They Bring Teammates Together – These days, custom mouthguards aren’t just custom in the sense that they fit your mouth perfectly. They can also be custom-designed with your team’s logo and colors to help unify teammates and help boost team spirit. Design your own mouthguard at GuardLab to get one that captures your squad’s pride.
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Whether you’re an elite athlete or an intramural player looking to take your performance to the next level, you simply can’t skip out on a good sports mouth guard. Not only can it protect you from painful, expensive injuries that could linger for a lifetime, but it will also help you stay focused on pushing yourself to the limit and help your team succeed so you can nab title after title. GuardLab is here to help you find the perfect custom mouth guard for you.