Look out for mouth guards this March. While you’re cheering on your favorite team in the NCAA Tournament, pay attention to a player after a particularly bad call. He or she might throw a dirty look at the referee initially, but once the fans react to the call on the jumbotron then a dirty look isn’t enough. That’s when the player really starts barking at the referee. But first, they have to take their mouth guard out.
Why mess around with a mouth guard? Yelling at the referees – and, you know, communicating with your teammates – is an important part of the game. So, if you’re thinking that there must be some awesome benefits for wearing a mouth guard, you’d be right! New and improved mouth guards have been developed that not only protect your teeth, but actually boost your athletic performance as well.
Whether it’s chewing gum, eating hard candy or biting our nails, we put a lot of stress on our jaws throughout the day. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the skull. So, if the jaw is misaligned, then all of that stress becomes painful. Problems with the TMJ can cause severe jaw pain, recurring headaches and migraines. It can also put you at a competitive disadvantage.
When we’re competing, the fight-or-flight instinct in our brain causes our jaws to clench. It’s an entirely natural response, but that doesn’t mean it benefits athletic performance. In fact, the stress placed on the TMJ triggers hormones, including cortisol, that impact muscles in the rest of the body, too. These hormones produce stress, fatigue and distraction at the worst time.
Neuromuscular mouth guards are designed to help athletes reach peak performance. These mouth guards prevent clenching and ensure correct jaw alignment by moving the jaw forward and down. Eliminating pressure on the TMJ relaxes muscles throughout the body and also creates space at the back of the mouth to allow more oxygen into the lungs.
While stress, fatigue and distraction can put you at a disadvantage, injury can keep you out of the game altogether. And nobody wants to lose a tooth! Custom-fitted mouth guards reduce impact from blows to the jaw and mouth. Because you never know when an elbow is going to fly your way.
Mouth guards aren’t only for football players anymore. From basketball to golf, there’s Under Armour Performance Mouthwear™ for all kinds of competition:
Remember boiling those plastic mouth guards at home and then biting the softened plastic to make it your own? Much like mouth guard technology, the fitting process has advanced as well. All three types of UA Performance Mouthwear can be custom-fitted by Dr. Blaine McLaughlin at Dental Touch Associates and then sent to the UA lab to be made. Once the one-of-a-kind mouth guard is done, Dr. McLaughlin does the final fitting to ensure everything is perfect.
If you’re interested in a neuromuscular mouth guard or looking for a dentist, come talk to Dr. McLaughlin and the team at Dental Touch Associates in Cedar Rapids.