June 2011, Volume 7, Issue 6
Published by AEGIS Communications
Under Armour Performance Mouthwear Products
Advanced technology helps athletes improve performance.
In the past 50 years, a considerable volume of research has concluded that clenching one's teeth completes a neuro-physiological feedback loop responsible for a complex series of responses resulting in an increase in adrenaline and cortisol production as well as blood pressure and heart rate. That this "stress response" is invariably initiated during instances of physical exertion is undeniably counterintuitive because of its detrimental effect on athletic performance. Cortisol in particular can, at high levels, cause the body to enter a state of constant muscle breakdown and suppressed immune function, thereby increasing the risk of illness and injury while at the same time reducing muscle.
History of Oral Appliances
The first research into the application of an oral appliance in athletic performance first began in 1958. JM Strenger at the University of Notre Dame was the first to consider this avenue of study and concluded the efficacy of holding cotton wool rolls over the back teeth in an effort to resolve a football player's balance problems. Strenger's original hypothesis was initially dismissed by his peers but subsequent research, which began in earnest in the 1980s, has amassed a wealth of data to support the notion that the application of an oral appliance can increase strength, performance, and reaction times in physically active persons.
In 1980, RS Kaufman tested the oral appliance hypothesis by making bite-altering splints for the US Olympic bobsled and luge teams after athletes reported perceived increased strength when wearing dental splints.1 With the work of Strenger and others leading the way, researchers deduced that an increase in strength and stamina was caused by the application of an oral device because the increased airflow and "forced" relaxation of the jaw improved oxygen kinetics, thus lowering cortisol production.
CF Alexander enhanced this theory 19 years later using a specially designed boil-and-bite mouthpiece created by Bite Tech and a group of volunteers from the University of Tennessee.2 Alexander's study showed that the grip strength of participants increased by 74% when wearing the mouthpiece, and this initial research led Garner and Miskimin3 to conduct further research into the efficacy of oral appliances in 2009. The later study involved an in-depth comparison of muscular endurance with and without a mouthpiece and concluded a significant improvement in sporting performance resulting from the use of a specially designed oral appliance. Trial participants showed an increase of 11% in mean bench press repetitions and 17% in preacher curl repetitions when wearing a Bite Tech product. Perhaps more significantly, cortisol levels were found to be on average 49% lower.
Under Armour Performance Mouthwear™ (UAPM) Products are engineered using Bite Tech's patented technology and clinical trials have shown that there is a definite improvement in the response to auditory clues and a potential improvement in response to visual clues when these products are used.
Now part of the UAPM Product range, the Bite Tech device initially used in these recent studies was developed specifically for use by athletes and includes an Under Armour® Performance Mouthguard (Figure 1), which has an optimal fit with superior protection and comfort for contact sports and an Under Armour® Performance Mouthpiece (Figure 2), which has optimal fit and comfort for non-contact sports. The UAPM Products use ArmourBite® Technology, which is backed up by 15 years of research. It positions a patented, uniquely shaped Power Wedge™ between the molars to help maintain optimal spacing and reduce the effects of clenching by reducing cortisol production as well as reducing lactic acid build-up by up to 25%. Over 1,000 professional athletes wear ArmourBite®; the appliance is a powerful tool in the quest to enhance athletic protection and performance.
UAPM has been engineered to unlock the body's true potential and has a positive impact on an athlete's ability to train harder and perform at a higher level by increasing strength and endurance and reducing the impact of the stress response that limits physical performance.
1. Kaufman RS. Case reports of TMJ repositioning to improve scoliosis and the performance of athletes. NY State Dental J. 1980;46(4):206-209.
2. Alexander CF. Masters Thesis. 1999; Knoxville, TN; University of Tennessee.
3. Garner DP, Miskimin J. Effects of mouthpiece use on auditory and visual reaction time in college males and females. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2009;30(Spec No 2):14-17.
About the Author
William L. Balanoff, DDS, MS, FICD | Dr. Balanoff is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, and is a consultant for Bite Tech.
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The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dentistry.