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Lifting heavy weights can place a significant amount of stress on your jaw, especially if you tend to clench or grind your teeth under a heavy load. That’s why many powerlifters and strongman competitors like Brian Shaw, 4-time World’s Strongest Man, wear a mouthpiece during training and competition.
So, what mouthpiece does Brian Shaw wear? Brian Shaw wears the New Age Performance 6DS, which offers stability for six dimensions of the jaw, keeps your jaw secure and prevents it from moving side-to-side when under heavy load, and provides protection for your teeth when clenching or grinding during heavy lifts.
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of Brian Shaw’s mouthpiece, review the research behind the effects of mouthpieces on athletic performance, and talk about the New Age Performance mouthpiece that I recommend for lifters and strength athletes.
Check out my complete review of the New Age Performance Mouthpiece.
Brian Shaw’s Mouthpiece: An Overview
The New Age Performance 6DS mouthpiece is a boil-and-bite mouthpiece made from a food-grade, BPA-free material. It is designed to sit behind the bottom teeth with walls on each side that cover the inner bottom teeth.
Unlike a lot of other mouthpieces on the market, the 6DS mouthpiece offers stability for six dimensions of your jaw:
- Anterior Posterior
When you’re performing a heavy lift or exerting yourself during other movements, the 6DS mouthpiece prevents your jaw from moving side-to-side while also offering protection from the clenching or grinding of your teeth.
Why Does Brian Shaw Wear a Mouthpiece? (3 Reasons)
Brian Shaw originally began wearing the New Age Performance 6DS to prevent dental fractures. He’s also stated that the mouthpiece places his jaw in a comfortable position and re-aligns his bite.
In addition to these benefits, New Age Performance claims that their mouthpieces can make a huge difference in balance, strength, and flexibility.
Let’s review what some other research has to say about each of these claims.
1. Increased balance
A recent study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health set out to prove whether or not mouthpieces have an effect on body alignment and balance performance.
Twenty-three professional male basketball players participated in the study. They were voluntarily assigned to participate in three treatments, including no treatment (no mouthguard), acute treatment (wearing a mouthguard), and repeated treatments (8 weeks follow-up).
Outcomes from this study showed no significant impact on body alignment, but they did show improvements in balance performance. Pelvic torsion, otherwise known as a twisted pelvis, decreased after acute and repeated mouthguard treatments.
Improvements were also seen in kyphotic angle, or the curvature in the spine, in the acute and repeated mouthguard treatments.
The results from this study suggest that wearing a mouthpiece can help improve balance, although you need to wear one for several weeks in order to see results.
2. Increased strength
A study published by Cogent Medicine in 2017 set out to prove whether or not mouthpieces can improve aerobic and anaerobic performance.
Subjects of this study consisted of 15 experienced resistance-trained males aged 19-26. They performed 6 sets of 10 reps of back squats at 80% of their 1-rep maxes with and without a mouthpiece.
Results from this study showed that the subjects were able to complete more reps without assistance and fewer reps with assistance when wearing a mouthpiece.
The subjects also presented lower cortisol levels mid-workout and 30 minutes post-workout based on blood tests taken at each time point. This suggests that wearing a mouthpiece results in less stress during intense resistance exercises.
Another study published in 2018 analyzed the effects of mouthpieces on 23 male and female subjects. The subjects consisted of military members, United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) cadets, and USAFA civilian employees.
Each subject was tested in the bench press, leg press, 1.5-mile run, sit and reach, and an anaerobic endurance assessment. For each exercise, the subjects wore either a bite regulator, a thermoplastic mouthpiece, or no mouthpiece.
Results showed that the bite regulator produced faster 1.5-mile run times, longer anaerobic endurance runs, and heavier leg press lifts.
There were no significant differences in bench press weight or the sit and reach, which suggests that the effects of bite regulators are more pronounced on exercises involving the lower body.
Looking for more research on mouthguards? Read my article on Do Mouthguards Make You Stronger?
3. Increased flexibility
As we discussed above, a bite-aligning mouthpiece didn’t have any effects on the sit and reach, suggesting that they have no impact on flexibility. A study conducted by Rutgers University showed similar results.
The Rutgers University study analyzed male athletes who wore a neuromuscular dentistry-designed jaw repositioning mouthguard, a standard mouthguard, and a placebo mouthguard. Outcomes showed no differences between the three conditions on flexibility.
In this study, 20 healthy, college-aged male athletes were tested without a mouthguard, with a placebo mouthguard, a self-adapted jaw-repositioning mouthguard, and a custom-fitted jaw-repositioning mouthguard.
Results showed that the custom-fitted jaw-repositioning mouthguards produced lower hip flexion and greater lumbar-spine lateral flexion than the other conditions. However, the effect sizes were very small, indicating that the mouthguards didn’t significantly impact flexibility.
Both studies also concluded that there were no negative impacts on performance, so even if mouthpieces don’t improve flexibility, there are no downsides to wearing one.
If Brian Shaw Wears a Mouthpiece Does That Mean You Should Too?
If you’re a powerlifter or a strongman competitor, you should wear a mouthpiece. In addition to the benefits we reviewed above, there are many other ways that a mouthpiece can improve your performance in the gym.
Clenching your teeth during heavy lifts can result in a phenomenon called the concurrent activation potentiation (CAP). This occurs when strength is optimized by activating muscles that aren’t used as primary movers in the exercise and can help you lift more weight or perform a higher amount of reps.
But clenching places a lot of stress on your teeth. Wearing a mouthpiece when lifting heavy weights can protect your teeth from this wear and tear.
Mouthpieces also put your body in proper alignment that allows for better air flow and improved balance. This can help you lift more efficiently by allowing you to breathe and brace properly and keeping your body more stable when you’re exerting yourself.
However, if you’re not already using a good lifting belt or wearing the proper lifting shoes, a mouthpiece won’t magically add a lot of weight to your lifts. But if you’re already equipped with other essential lifting tools, a mouthpiece can be a beneficial addition to your training kit.
Also, if you’re new to your sport, a mouthpiece isn’t an essential item that you need to purchase right away. You should first work on learning the basics of your sport and getting stronger before adding new gear to your gym bag.
Which Mouthpiece Should I Get?
The 6DS is rigid and made out of a thick material, which offers more protection for your teeth if you clench or grind them when lifting heavy.
The 6DS also offers lateral stability that can protect your jaw from side-to-side movements during heavy lifts.
In addition to the 6DS, New Age Performance makes a 5DS mouthpiece, which is a little more flexible and easier to breathe in. If you’re a CrossFitter or your workouts consist mostly of metcons or HIIT, the 5DS would be a better option for you.
Check out my other article on What Mouthpiece Does Rich Froning Wear? Spoiler alert, it’s different from what Brian Shaw wears.
Research is still inconclusive about the effects of mouthpieces on flexibility and movements such as the bench press, but studies do show that they can have a positive impact on leg strength and endurance activities.
There are also no known negative effects on mouthpieces. If you’re looking to gain an edge in competition or you just want to improve your performance in the gym, a mouthpiece can be a worthwhile addition to your gym bag.
Check out my other mouthguard reviews:
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.