Imagine a dental appliance that could improve athletic performance. It sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Well, don’t laugh, because a mouthguard invented by a Nova Scotia dentist is gaining popularity as a panacea for athletes who rely on focus for results. Now two golfers who use the Pure Power Mouthguard — PGA Tour members Scott McCarron and Steve Elkington — have signed endorsement deals with the company to have its logo emblazoned on their bags and make the eponymous corporate appearances that come with such celebrity endorsement contracts.
The customized mouthguard was developed by Dr. Anil Makkar, who designed the device for a fisherman who was suffering from extreme headaches. According to this archived story from the READING EAGLE, Makkar was inspired to broaden the scope of his device’s use when the fisherman came back reporting increased strength when lifting lobster traps while using the mouthguard. Naturally, that got Makkar thinking, and after tweaking the device, he started pushing the Pure Power Mouthguard on athletes.
“Who would ever believe,” Makkar said, “that putting something in your mouth and getting the right jaw position would produce all these effects?”
Well, we wouldn’t, for one. Makkar claims there’s legitimate science behind the device, but we’re not convinced that wearing a mouthguard can really improve performance that much. What, are McCarron and Elkington suddenly going to drive the ball 100 yards farther because they’re chomping on a mouthpiece? They going to start making the puts that keep them in 10th place at the Honda Open?
Amazingly, he’s gotten some pretty big bites, no pun intended. Shaquille O’Neal & Bucks sharpshooter Michael Redd wear the mouthguard in the NBA, Manny Ramirez has been seen chomping on one between pitches, and Cowboys place kicker Nick Folk is also a believer.
(Hocus pocus or athletic/dental marvel? Good luck deciphering.)
Put all that together, and Makkar could be on the verge of a Phiten-type breakthrough. You can hardly go to a baseball game without watching 20 multiculured Phiten necklaces bounce around on players’ necks. Pure Power Mouthguards sold between 2,500 and 3,500 mouthguards last year, despite their relatively prohibitive price tag of $1,250-$2,000.
Then again, athletes are awfully shrewd about marketing themselves and making money, and it’s hard to see Pure Power Mouthguards as an exception. You’re trying to tell me that Manny Ramirez could force a trade from an ownership that wanted to hold on to him for a playoff run if at all humanly possible, but he couldn’t convince a mouthpiece maker that he liked his product and wanted to endorse it?
Whether the results will follow the increased use is anyone’s guess. For the record, we’re obviously still skeptical. Then again, we were skeptical about Phiten, too, and we were way off on that. So go figure.
For his part, Redd’s personal trainer, David Pritchard, is a big believer … and like Redd, he’s also getting paid to comment on the company’s behalf, so take that into consideration.
“It will be as important to an athlete as taking vitamins and stretching out,” Pritchard said. “It will be as much a part of the uniform as anything else.”