Athletes primarily use mouthguards to reduce the risk for orofacial injuries. In recent years, specially designed mouthguards based on neuromuscular dentistry have been touted to increase performance in areas such as strength, flexibility, and balance. The functional movement screen (FMS) is a complex set of seven fundamental movement patterns utilized to assess range of motion, stability, and balance. The FMS has previously been shown to be a predictor of injury in professional football players and has been correlated with past musculoskeletal injury in firefighters. By maintaining proper jaw and neck alignment, a neuromuscular dentistry-based mouthguard may impact performance on the FMS.
PURPOSE: To test the hypothesis that a neuromuscular dentistry-designed mouthguard (EXP) will alter the composite score of the FMS compared to a boil and bite mouthguard (BB) and no mouthguard (NO) condition.
METHODS: This double-blind, cross-over design incorporated athletes with 2+ years of current involvement in a sport, 3+ days of training per week for the previous 3 months, 6+ hours a week of training time and at least one instance of competition a year (38M, 8F, 74.8±13.9kg, 1.75±0.09m) after providing IRB-approved informed consent. Several weeks prior to testing, subjects were fitted for both a lower-jaw BB and lower-jaw EXP by qualified dentists. Subjects were randomly assigned to order of use for each mouthguard condition (NO, BB, EXP). Each of the seven patterns of the FMS was scored in real time by a trained observer on a scale of 0-3 with a total possible composite score of 21. An unbalanced mixed-effects ANOVA (p<0.05) was used for statistical analysis.
RESULTS: Mouthguard condition was not a significant main effect for FMS composite score (p=0.7165). 95% CI for FMS score were NO:13.34-13.85; BB:13.48-14.00; EXP:13.49-14.00.
CONCLUSION: Although jaw position has been shown to impact posture and stability, the utilization of a neuromuscular dentistry-designed mouthguard did not alter performance on the FMS. The FMS assesses dynamic movement ability at the whole body level utilizing a very basic scoring scale. Further investigations involving more sensitive measures may be needed to detect performance changes. Funded by Pure Power Athletics, Inc.