Objective: To assess the effects of wearing a protective mouthguard during exercise on ventilation and oxygen consumption.
Design and Setting: All participants performed a graded maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer to determine peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak). Each participant also performed 6 submaximal exercise tests while wearing one of two facemasks (nasal or non-nasal breathing) and one of three mouthguard conditions (no mouthguard, boil and bite, custom-fit). Steady-state VO2, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and other ventilatory values were measured at 60% and 80% of VO2max during each submaximal exercise test. All 6 submaximal exercise tests were completed within a 2-week period using a randomized 6x6 balanced Latin square design.
Subjects: Twenty-four subjects (age = 20.41 ± 1.99) who were members of the Brigham Young University lacrosse team participated in this study.
Measurements: Data were analyzed using a random coefficients growth curve. The full models for all variables included fixed effects for mask, work level, mouthguard, time, and all interactions of the above. Full models were also assumed to have random subject coefficients for the intercepts and slopes relative to time.
Results: For VO2 there was a significant effect for facemask type (p<.0001, F = 24.30, df = 1680), mouthguard (p = .0177, F = 4.04, df = 1680), and work (p<.0001, F = 5428.16, df = 1680). For VO2 there was also a significant interaction for mask*work (p = .0280, F = 4.84, df = 1680). For RPE there was a significant effect for facemask type (p = .0005, F = 12.28, df = 1657) and for work (p<.0001, F = 4040.53, df = 1657). For RPE there were also significant interactions for mask*mouthguard (p<.0001, F = 11.82, df = 1657) and for mask*work (p<.0001, F = 18.88, df = 1657). For VE there were significant interactions for mask (p< 0.0001, F = 16.49, df = 1680), mouthguard (p < 0.0001, F = 19.98, df = 1680), and work (p < 0.0001, F = 9122.33, df = 1680). For VE there were also significant interactions for mask*mouthguard (p < 0.002, F = 6.25, df = 1680), and mask*work (p < 0.0001, F = 17.77, df = 1680).
Conclusions: Although statistical significance was found for a number of effects, we speculate that the very small differences in the physiological responses to wearing a mouthguard are of little practical significance and would not effect performance. Wearing a mouthguard during exercise does not alter physiological responses and complaints of reduced ventilation are probably psychological.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Exercise Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





protective equipment, VO2, breathing