Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AgilityGuard from A-Z

Alright folks, here's the complete story on the "magical mouthpiece."

If you recall, I had my fitting for the AgilityGuard mouthpiece when I visited Boulder.... here are pics of some of the process...

What sets the AgilityGuard apart from other mouthpieces on the market is that it's very specifically customized to the individual -- no "one size fits all." Therefore, the fitting itself is a super long procedure of more than two hours in which you're hooked up to equipment nearly the entire time (imagine having electrical stim on your face for 90 minutes with constant jaw-muscle contractions, hilarious!). Eventually they make multiple test molds and narrow it down to the perfect one; the final mouthpiece is created based off that. While I was getting fitted in Boulder a hanful of athletes were stopping by to pick up their mouthpieces, everyone from a hardcore CrossFit director to cyclists including Taylor Phinney:

When they did the initial tests on me -- testing strength, flexibility, balance, etc with mouthpiece in / mouthpiece out -- I'm not gonna lie, I was completely skeptical. Some of the tests were the same ones I've seen done for PowerBalance, so that was like "uhhh, here we go." But then we did a bunch of tests, and they worked like I couldn't believe. We re-tested to make sure muscle memory wasn't kicking in, and the mouthpiece still proved to enhance what was being tested. Trust me, I was trying
sooooo hard to prove it wrong, but the mouthpiece made a difference!

But the caveat: Doing little tests in a room is great and all; it shows promise for the device. But that alone doesn't give the answer to the big question: Does the mouthpiece work in a real-life setting, aka while you're doing your sport?

What the AgilityGuard is supposed to do:

Improve/increase...

Posture
Strength
Power output

Balance
Flexibility
Agility
ROM

as well as...
Enhance recovery


Well hot damn!!! Sounds amazing, yea? But how does it do this? (Especially if there's no "hologram technology" involved?? Hehe.) I wanted to know the actual mechanisms that make this mouthpiece a potential performance-enhancer.

In short, the mouthpiece creates "optimal alignment" of the jaw that has a positive impact the body from head to toe; this works to enhance all those factors listed above.

And the long version....

I asked Dr. Joe Andary, DDS, one of the dentists who fitted me (and a super nice guy), to give me the complete lowdown, and here's what he told me. A TriTawn exclusive lol:

"The 'Bite' how your teeth meet is an integral part of the human structural and functional anatomy to support body posture, balance and function. There are over 60 pairs of muscles above and below the lower jaw that determine head, upper neck, shoulder and jaw posturing during static and dynamic movements.

Our teeth come together several thousand times a day, during swallowing and chewing functions and is controlled by a complex feedback sensory motor system involving the largest of the 12 Cranial Nerves. Teeth coming into contact is orchestrated by the muscles of the jaw, jaw joint and the associated nerves. Depending on the position/condition of the teeth, your 'bite' determines how these muscles and joints function . A poor bite will require more compensatory movements of jaw muscles and jaw joints than a corrected physiological bite.

AgilityGuard is an appliance that captures a physiological bite when worn over the teeth and is based on the science of Optimization. Optimization of the bite is the science and art of determining and maintaining a specific relationship of the teeth, muscles, joints and the central nervous system by sound principles of bite management that allow not only the collective structures of the mouth and jaw to rest, but the entire body to function in a more efficient physiological zone.

Optimization utilizes a TENS ( trans-cutneous electrical neural stimulation) machine to deliver low frequency stimulation via nerves to the muscles of the face and jaw to remove the torque and imbalances in the muscles. TENS along with precise computerized jaw tracking techniques are used to confirm the optimum position of the lower jaw within fractions of a millimeter. The AgilityGuard appliance provides a position of contact for the teeth which which eliminates jaw torque and muscle strain to support proper head and neck posture.

When these muscles are allowed to assume a physiological balanced relationship by correcting a 'bad bite' the head immediately assumes an upright posture and the shoulders level off. pelvic rotation ceases allowing the leg length to equalize and over all body posture dramatically normalizes and the body becomes more efficient physiologically.

A 'quieter' nervous system, unstrained muscles and better alignment improves flexibility, range of motion, strength, balance and improved recovery."

~~~

So there you have it. A couple more comments about the AG/my thoughts... the guard actually protrudes your jaw somewhat, meaning it brings your bottom teeth forward. It's not uncomfortable at all to be in this position for extended periods (I know from experience), but it will make you talk funny and have a lisp; no biggie in my opinion. Also, it sticks well to your bottom teeth so you don't have to worry about it falling out while biking or running (I wouldn't wear it swimming. however). You can still drink and eat gels with it in, but I'd stay away from eating real food (bars, etc). Oh yea, like I said before, your front teeth don't touch so ripping open gels is tricky! I especially like how there's something there to bite down on instead of grinding your teeth, especially when you're working hard. I the only thing I didn't really care for was getting dry mouth and chapped lips more than I do sans AG (and not being able to chew gum lol). Hm, but maybe that makes me hydrate better/more often? Just be sure to wear lip balm/chapstick when wearing.

Again, I'm still not in a position to say if the AG lives up to all the claims. But I'm optimistic. It definitely hasn't made me worse... things go well when I train with it on, and I'm recovering well. But other factors surely play a role in that. I have to do more scientific-like testing to draw my own definite conclusions.

In the meantime, for more research click here. Even some triathletes are onto this.




4 comments:

  1. I can't wait for some pro triathlete to podium in a big race, and then its going to be all the rage :)

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  2. And I was just going to set up an apt. with my dentist b/c I am clenching my teeth at night and it's causing headaches etc. so I might ask him what he knows about this as well. Good luck!

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  3. CautiouslyAudacious,

    Let me know what your dentist says! Talk about good timing :)

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  4. Tawnee,

    That's very exciting to hear about! Isn't it amazing what the bite to posture connection can do?!? We've been seeing some great results around the country and down here in San Antonio, TX!

    good luck,
    dr. hale

    ReplyDelete