Bite on this: are mouth guards the next “must have” fitness toy

24 Nov

Well, it looks as if some members of the endurance community are already eying up a new product to enhance your performance:  Forget your Skins Inov 8s or vibrams, you could be needing a new  specially fitted mouth guard to enhance your workout……

According to the website,  Agility Guard the research in favour of such a proposition is  growing: some studies have suggested a relationship between the vertical position of the jaw and isometric strength of the upper body  (e.g Abdallah et al. “Affecting upper extremity strength by changing maxillomandibular vertical dimension in deep bite subjects”, The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice (2004); 22: 268-275.

Chafka et al. concluded that there is a “vertical position”,  unique to each persons jaw, which maximizes isometric strength  (“The Effect of Stepwise Increases in Vertical Dimension of Occlusion on Isometric Strength of Cervical Flexors and Deltoid Muscles in Nonsymptomatic Females”, The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice (2002), 20:264-273.)

Forgione et al.  suggested that there was  a  relationship does exist between bite and isometric strength, “Strength and bite, Part 2: testing isometric strength using a MORA to set a functional criterion” , The Journal of Cranio-Mandibular Practice (1992); 10(1):13-20. who knew, perhaps biting should be part of your new regime


( btw  According to “Shock Doctor” ( who?), “When fitted and worn correctly, the Shock Doctor Ultra Mouthguard positions the lower jaw down and forward, and the tongue up into the roof of the mouth (M.O.R.A. position). A Mandibular Orthopedic Repositioning Appliance (M.O.R.A.) may increase strength and athletic performance in a wide range of sports.”

Wang, Ueno, et al. found that maximum voluntary contraction during shoulder abduction( raising your arm) was significantly stronger with a mora “Influence on isometric muscle contraction during shoulder abduction by changing occlusal situation”, Bull. Tokyo Med Dent Univ, 1996, 43 (1): 1- 12.

Abduljabbar et al. found that some populations  responded to a ” bite raising appliance”  by increased isometric strength, “Effect of increased maxillo-mandibular relationship on isometric strength in TMD patients with loss of vertical dimension of occlusion”, The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice (1997) Jan; 15(1) 57-67.

al-Abassi et al. found that, in deep bite individuals,  cervical muscle isometric strength is affected by bite position and vertical dimension of occlusion, “The effect of vertical dimension and mandibular position on isometric strength of the cervical flexors”, The Journal of Cranio-Mandibular Practice, (1999) Apr; 17(2):85-92.


But before everyone rushes out and gets a  ( presumably not cheap) mouthguard, its as well to be aware of the research sponsored by those wanting to promote this as a product and service

Arents et al , superficially  indicates a significantly better performance of a neuromuscular mouthguard over a custom-fitted mouthguard with respect to vertical jump, peak power output, average peak power, and average mean power. ( “Effects of a neuromuscular dentistry-designed mouthguard on muscular endurance and anaerobic power”, Comparative Exercise Physiology (2010)).

apparently the effects of jaw position  to structural stability is  examined in these two report

Bracco P, Deregibus A and Piscetta R (2004). Effects of different jaw relations on postural stability in human subjects. Neuroscience Letters 356: 228–230.

8 Sakaguchi K, Mehta N, Abdallah E, Forgione A, Hirayama H, Kawasaki T, et al. (2007). Examination of the relationship between mandibular position and body posture. The Journal of Craniomandibular Practice 25: 237–249.

but interestingly , back to Arents et al

“neuromuscular dentistry techniques have become more advanced. Based on the current study, it appears that a mouthguard designed using neuromuscular dentistry techniques has the potential to impact athletic performance in areas related to maximal power and repeatable power outputs. This may hold significance for the athlete who is required to wear a mouthguard while still looking for a competitive advantage and improvement” (page 5)


“Whether jaw positioning positively affects gross motor functioning has yet to be conclusively determined and remains to be a topic of controversy”

it is interesting that the report specifically debates the issue in the context of elite athletes who “have” to wear mouth guards anyway

“the speculative concerns put forth by athletes of possible discomfort, reduced ability to breathe and decreased performance6. The latter concern seems to be a major consideration for high-level athletes who are typically  looking to gain any advantage”

I do wonder, whether within the year,  if anybody who is anybody, will not only have to have skins and Inov 8, s but  will also need a mouthguard…….. when doing a thruster!

Im not sure if this is the same thing, but at least its in London, its a pure Mouth guard, well I never!

In the meantime, Ive emailed Joy to ask her if she will chat to her bosses and get some more info about this . If anyone has any personal insight, so post up below

In the picture above, Im modelling my 2005 £2.50 self moulded  gum shield: it makes your smile prettier. ( and you can see my crap tache!)






11 thoughts on “Bite on this: are mouth guards the next “must have” fitness toy

  1. I know a lot of NH jockeys use a specific ‘athletic’ mouthguard that is supposed to help performance, I’ll try and find out what type it is and if they think it actually has any impact.

  2. I have worn a gum shield for a number of years and read the shock doc packaging which makes claims about this. Difficult to tell whether it makes a difference or not – but it has definitely saved my teeth a few times. If you want to experiment a shock doc gum guard is between £15-30,

  3. I’ll try and google this but I think this might be true. Not mouthguard related as not worn in football but I know that at my beloved arsenal they have done jaw alignment stuff with a number of players for ten years plus and seen effects on biomechanics. Thierry Henry was one such player who spoke of the benefits- that said he was an incredible natural athlete so it may have just been the icing on the cake really.

    I’d be skeptical of cross fit dot com or whover promoting that. To me they just jump on each and every band wagon going (compression socks, skins, vibrams etc etc) without any understanding

  4. Oh yes Colm, it does. I have discussed this at length with Andrew. The whole performance gain comes from being so embarrassed in front of your peers, that you power through Fran – pink being the optimum colour for males. Now…..where did I put my pink skipping rope?

  5. Rated the pink skipping rope. Ignore the haters Alex

    Expecting to see everyone in ear muffs next wod or they are simply not dedicated enough

  6. I’ve got a pink skipping rope. It’s called GI Jane, and is from RX ropes 😉

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