Athletes turning to mouth guards to enhance performances

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Athletes everywhere are always looking for an edge, and pros and weekend warriors alike may enhance their performance with a simple mouth guard.

As a dentist, and the owner of Atlantic Dental, Rafaella Correa-Pinto has been prescribing mouth guards for years for patients who grind their teeth. "I have a few patients who are trainers and they work out a lot. They feel that they clench down a lot when working out or doing their sports."

Clenching not only ruins teeth, but it hinders sleep, and also physical activities. "People tend to clench down on their teeth. You clench down and that releases a lot of tension. It also releases hormones into your body. Those hormones can cause fatigue. They release lactic acid and impede your performance," says Correa-Pinto.

World class athletes like skiers Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn, along with pro bodybuilder Jay Cutler, swear by them. It’s addition by subtraction, really.

Mouth guards don't necessarily enhance the workout, but they help keep the evils of clenching at bay. "Not only to save your teeth, but to help keep your body at a peak level so you can train more sufficiently," says Cutler.

"Also, it helps open up your airway. Studies show you have more strength, you perform faster, almost immediately," says Correa-Pinto.

A mouth guard made by Body Armour, a sports apparel company, is easier to manage than a standard night guard. "A few of my patients who have been asking about it say they have been getting benefits from it. I actually got one for myself," says Correa-Pinto.

The fact that it is streamlined makes it functional in other stressful situations. “You can actually use it when you are at work. I use it at work when I feel I am grinding down. We all grind during stress."

The mouth guard helps you breathe easier, manage your stress better, your teeth will look better, and maybe your body will too. "Really happy, and my patients are, too."