May 19, 2016 3 min read

Snake Oil Salesmen are at it again. This time they are not selling you remedies for ailments, instead they are selling you performance enhancing mouth guards (PEM) that:

Increases your core strength

Enhances your reaction time and focus 

Reduce stresses and tension throughout your body

Stabilizes your shoulder muscles, neck muscles, head muscles, and jaw muscles

Improves your balance and flexibility

Decelerate your lactic acid buildup, and (get this)

Help your muscles recover as you sleep at night!

Every single one of these claims listed above are unsubstantiated.  Do you still believe, as many of us did as children, that your new shoes can make you run faster or jump higher?  Neither should you believe similar claims PEM companies make.  

A client of ours emailed Guardlab (a new custom mouth guard company making all the claims mentioned above), and tried to get  some sort of scientific data that backed the performance enhancing benefits of their mouth guards because their website is void of it.   Also, after all, on the bottom of their "science + tech" page it reads, "If you have any questions regarding our science and technology, please email us".  

Nevertheless, instead of sending him any studies they have done, or any empirical evidence for their "technology", they kept referring him back to their own website, for the "science" behind their "technology", which, again, does not have a single scientific study on it.   Therefore, the only proof this company has for what they claim their mouth guards do, is their own website.  Which continues to beg the question, where is the proof?     After pressing the issue with a third email for some sort of data to back their claims, they wrote back and said,  "just Google neuromuscular dentistry for more information on the subject", which, by the way, neuromuscular dentistry has nothing to do with athletic mouth guards or the claims they are making  about their mouth guards.   

On August 16 of 2012 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a statement regarding BrainPad, Inc. and the company’s claims that their mouth guards reduce the risk of concussion.[1]  The FTC concluded that BrainPad was in violation of provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act  by making such claims. The FTC concluded BrainPad was being untruthful and misleading consumers because BrianPad could not make show of any scientific studies to prove that their mouth guards can reduce concussions. The FTC further alleged that BrainPad made the false and misleading claim that they possessed scientific studies that proved their concussion-reduction risk claims when, in fact, they did not have such studies.  In short, the FTC forced BrainPad to remove from their packaging, and all their advertising,  any claims that mentioned their mouth guards reduce the risk of concussions. Also, the company will be monitored for the next 20 years by the FTC.  I guess BrainPad can be grateful that they were at least able to keep their name, when in fact their mouth guard, or any other mouth guard, does not offer padding for the brain. 

In spite of this judgment, other mouthguard companies are popping up with more ridiculous claims than BrainPad.  Why the FTC has not come down on companies like UnderArmor, who sell their "ArmorBite" mouth guards commercially and make similar performance enhancing claims, is a mystery. However,  just recently, in Britain, The British Advertising Standards Authority has ordered UnderAmor to stop claiming that wearing an UnderArmor ArmorBite device increases strength, increases endurance, speeds up reaction time, and reduces athletic stress because of the wanting evidence for such claims.  Therefore, because of this judgement, mouth guard companies in Britain cannot say their mouth guards enhance performance.[2]   Our hope is that the US and the FTC will follow suit  to put a stop to this quackery here in the states.

 Believe us, if there were scientific data to prove PEM, we would be making them.  If there were mouth guards that reduced your chances of concussions, we would be making those as well.  However, Damage Control Mouthguards, since its inception, has been, and will continue to be, directed by education, science, and empirical evidence; therefore, our company will not put out any claims if there is no quantitative data to back them.

Companies like these are a black eye to the mouth guard industry, and also the dental community.  It is the authors hope that knowledge of these facts, or lack thereof, will spread throughout the consumer world and the dental community, so people are well informed before buying or selling products that are, in the end, nothing more than snake oil sales pitches.  

[1] Settlement with FTC Prohibits Marketer Brain-Pad, Inc. from Claiming that Its Mouthguards Can Reduce Risk of Concussions

[2] A Skeptical Look at Under Armour Mouth Guards 


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