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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

New mouthguard for Manny

By Joaquin Henson
10 Jun 2018

Dr. Ed de la Vega will unveil a newly-designed, custom-made mouthpiece for Manny Pacquiao in his fight against WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse of Argentina at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on July 15.

De la Vega, 77, has been a practicing dentist since 1964 and migrated to the US in 1968. A dentistry graduate of UP and the University of Southern California, De la Vega has manufactured gumshields for a slew of fighters, including Jerwin Ancajas, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., Beibut Shumenov, Vyacheslav Senchenko, Nonito Donaire, Jr., Gerry Penalosa and Mia St. John. But it’s only a small percentage of his dental practice although De la Vega is known all over the sports world as the master maker of protective mouthguards.

De la Vega, who is based in the Los Angeles suburb of San Fernando Valley, said he has produced nearly 10 mouthpieces for Pacquiao since the Marco Antonio Barrera rematch in 2007. “He uses some, the others he keeps as reserves and still others as plain souvenirs,” said De la Vega. “Manny’s pieces are a specially designed hybrid that I custom-make for him. I use three layers of five millimeters each, a hardened middle layer and a three millimeter clear outermost layer to preserve the custom aesthetic design. I fit Manny’s pieces carefully and pay special attention to his anteriors or front teeth, including the central and lateral incisors and cuspids.”

De la Vega said there are six types of custom mouthpieces that he makes, depending on the sport. The junior type is a single three millimeter layer for young kids in school sports. The light type has two three millimeter layers used in wrestling, volleyball, mountain biking and motocross. The light pro type features three three millimeter layers with a middle hardened layer for all sports. The medium pro type has two layers of five millimeters for soccer, rugby, basketball, softball, roller blade and skateboarding. The heavy pro type has two five millimeter layers with a middle hardened layer for baseball, football, racquetball, mixed martial arts and boxing. The super heavy pro type has three five millimeter layers with a hardened middle layer for ice, street and field hockey and kickboxing.

“For Manny’s fight against Matthysse, we will unveil a new design,” said De la Vega. “It will be a hybrid mouthguard with a custom hand-painted design by Filipino artist Jun Aquino. The design will be laminated on the mouthpiece which is made of polyethylene vinyl acetate. We will display it at the final press conference in Kuala Lumpur.” De la Vega has been tapped as Pacquiao’s cutman and will join Buboy Fernandez and Justin Fortune in his corner for the Matthysse fight.

“Manny’s custom-made mouthguards are priceless,” said De la Vega. “I give them to him as a gift from a friend who cares for his safety. I don’t charge Filipino boxers who come to my humble offices for mouthguards from Manny to the newbies. The cost of a mouthguard ranges from $40 for young school kids involved in school sports to a high of $500 for the type I supply better-known boxers like Chavez and Shumenov.”

De la Vega, an expert in preventive, cosmetic and reconstructive dental surgery, is arriving from Los Angeles to meet with Pacquiao in General Santos City on June 18. In the US, he drives a pick-up truck which is his version of a mobile outdoor advertising vehicle with a graphic design for “dentist-fitted custom-made athletic mouthpieces ... to protect your teeth and minimize concussions.”

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