The Bite Stuff
The next frontier for improving your athletic performance.
by Ben Osborne/@bosborne17
It was just a small bit back in our KICKS section, but some of you may have seen the piece I did about Under Armour’s Performance Mouthwear in SLAM 136. If you didn’t, it’s reprinted below. And even if you did, I did promise to post a review…
The process involves getting impressions like you would for any number of needs at a dentist, then waiting a couple weeks while the mouthpiece is made. I got fitted before I wrote the above story, then, after some scheduling difficulties, I went in and picked up my mouthpiece from one of the participating dentists, Dr. Todd Bertman of Advanced Dental Arts in Midtown Manhattan, about a week ago.
First off, the packaging is pretty impressive, including a nice box and a hard-plastic holder for the piece. I put it in and loved the feel immediately. It’s strong, but unobtrusive. I should note that I was given the Performance Mouthpiece, typically recommended for “non-contact sports” while Under Armour endorsee Brandon Jennings wears the Performance Mouthguard, as reccommended for “contact sports.” Basketball can be seen as either, I’d say. Brandon had given me a quote about how much he likes his, and dropped a mention on his blog in January, so I trust he finds his unobtrusive as well.
I know this Performance Mouthpiece one I got is great. My ridiculous work/family schedule has prevented me from playing basketball in it yet, but I have gone jogging with it and noticed the improved breathing that is supposed to be the key to this technology. I’ve also worn it while working/typing, when I often do some stress-induced teeth grinding. In both cases, one of the best things, which Brandon noted in my magazine story, is how easy it is to talk while the piece is in. Dr. Bertman told me a lot of people have discussed how wearable the pieces are just on a daily basis. And to make sure I wasn’t just enjoying the concept of a mouthguard, I went to my local sporting goods store and bought the old-school kind that you boil in water to fit that I wore as a high school football player. That tasted/felt absolutely as unpleasant as I remember, so do not think these new pieces have anything in common with that.
Would I pay the $400-plus suggested retail price to make my teeth grinding while typing less damaging to my teeth? Probably not, but I’d sure think about that cost if I played a big-time sport. My liking how it felt for running makes sense in the context of this New York Times story from last December, which talks about the way these type of mouthpieces (made most prominently by Under Armour and a company called Makkar, whose version is even more expensive) are popular amongst cyclists and triathletes. Not surprisingly given the Times relatively active and affluent readership, Dr. Bertman says, “There hasn’t been a ton of new business around it, except amongst triathletes. Apparently a few started blogging about it, and since then I’ve had a number of them come in. They are already in such good shape, and the mouthguards are helping them lower their time and improve their performance.”
If you want to learn more about the different Under Armour mouthwear products and download a brochure, either as a possible buyer or just someone who might be curious about this latest step in sports performance technology, check out this accessories page from the UA website.