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The Effect of Mouthguard Design on Respiratory Function in Athletes

Gebauer, Dieter P BDS, MBBS (Hons)*†; Williamson, Raymond A BDS, MDS, PhD*†; Wallman, Karen E BEd, BSc (Hons), PhD; Dawson, Brian T PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: March 2011 - Volume 21 - Issue 2 - p 95-100
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31820428b0
Original Research

Objective: To test the hypothesis that 2 types of custom-made mouthguards will have no effect on ventilation (E, L·min−1), oxygen uptake (O2, mL·kg−1·min·−1), and heart rate (beats per minutes) at varying exercise intensities (10 km·h−1 and 12 km·h−1) and at subjective maximal effort (O2peak) in male field hockey and water polo players.

Design: A randomized, prospective, crossover study.

Setting: The Physiology Testing Laboratory, School of Sports Science, Exercise and Health at the University of Western Australia, a tertiary educational institution.

Participants: Twenty-seven male team-sport athletes.

Interventions: Each athlete participated in 3 experimental exercise sessions separated by 1-week intervals. Testing involved a graded exercise test (GXT) performed on a treadmill wearing either a custom laminated mouthguard with normal palatal surface, a custom laminated mouthguard with palatal coverage up to the gingival margin, or no mouthguard. The experimental trials were performed in a random counterbalanced order.

Main Outcome Measures: E (L·min−1) and O2 (mL·kg−1·min−1) were measured during the GXT at intensities that equated to 10 km·h−1, 12 km·h−1 and subjective maximal effort (O2peak).

Results: There were no significant differences between trials for E (L·min−1) and O2 (mL·kg−1·min−1) at any of the intensities assessed (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: The wearing of 2 different custom-made mouthguards during a GXT did not impair E or O2 during varying levels of exercise intensity in team sport athletes.

From the *School of Dentistry; †School of Medicine and Pharmacology; and ‡School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia.

Submitted for publication May 24, 2010; accepted October 3, 2010.

Supported by the Australian and New Zealand Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Research ethics approval for this study was sought and granted on February 18, 2008, by The University of Western Australia Research Ethics Committee, Research Services, Crawley, Perth, West Australia, Australia. Project number RA/4/1/1986.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Corresponding Author: Raymond A. Williamson, BDS, MDS, PhD, FRACDS, FFDRCS (Irel), FDSRCS (Eng), FRACDS (OMS), School of Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009 (e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.