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List of Articles by Ed de la Vega, DDS


 

ROMANCING THE MOUTHGUARD

By Ed de la Vega, DDS
PhilBoxing.com
12 May 2018



The functions of a custom mouthguard relative to the intraoral protection of an athlete are beyond question. There is no doubt that these devices are important particularly for those involved in contact sports.

To date however, managers and stakeholders including some tasked with regulatory functions are a tad slow in recommending the use of these mouthguards for athletes, most notably in boxing and MMA. Most say, “they are aware of the importance of mouthguards, but there are other issues that are more important” so for now the issue is set on the back burner. In fairness however, they are “working” on it.

A few mentioned that “cost” is a big issue. The “cost” factor is mostly true in the sports of boxing in the Philippines because most boxers, particularly the upstarts, come from poor families and cannot afford custom mouthguards. Managers understandably will not risk paying for custom mouthguards unless a boxer shows a huge potential. Boxing after all is business too and managers want to maximize their returns on investments.

However, the more erudite managers bite the bullet and go out of their ways to get the best there is for their boxers. They are never satisfied with providing their boxers false sense of comfort and protection from lousy substitutes acquired from sporting goods stores such as the one-size-fits-all “stock mouthguards” or those “boil and bite” that they can mold themselves.

Well-informed boxers on the other hand, demand mouthguards that don’t only give them maximum protection but are comfortable as well. In addition, a few demand funky designs that really looks “cool”, particularly when seen in photos or TV.

Athletes that demand custom mouthguards say the device add allure to the competition they are involved in. Others however, equate the design to other factors most particularly, patriotism.

Take the case of the Filipino boxing icon, Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao use mouthguards that have stories behind him. His mouthguards always depict his love of country therefore the colors of the Philippine flag is always seen in his mouthguards.

The same goes for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. His mouthguards often are tri-color - red, white, and green - the colors of the Mexican flag. Former WBA welterweight champion, Vyacheslav Senchenko uses the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine.

Some upstarts love to show their patriotic fervor as well. Tamomi Takano of Japan got the red and white colors of Japan complete with the red raising sun. Aston Palicte of the Philippines carried the red, white, and blue Philippine colors. Khabir Suleymanov has the red, blue, white colors of Russia.

Some amateurs love using their country’s color too. Favian Gutierrez of Argentina uses a blue and white. A lady warrior from the Middle East, Diana Bittar specified red, white, black, and green, the colors of “revolutionary Syria”.

Others request colors other than those seen in their country’s flag. Most notable amongst these is Philippine’s longest reigning world champion Donnie Nietes. Nietes always use purple colored mouthguards (his favorite color) with the word “Ahas” up front and center. Former WBA and IBA Lightweight champion, Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan simply wanted plain black.

Others use the color of their mouthguard as a sign of support for charities. UCA Super Heavyweight Masters Champion, Sean Johnson fights to raise funds for breast cancer. Thus, he uses a pink colored mouthpiece with pink ribbon logo. Mark Barriga, the former Philippine Olympian who is now a pro, uses a similarly designed and color mouthguard.

The old Philippine National Team that included Rey and Vic Saludar, Josie Gabuco, Nesty Petacio, Annie Albania, Charlie Suarez, Delfin Boholst and Alice Aparri wanted the Philippine colors too but amateur rules prohibit the use of red color in mouthguards, so they settled for a blue mouthguard with the Philippine flag up front.

Such is the romance of mouthguards. Different strokes for different folks!

In the end, every mouthguard carries a story behind it. But more importantly, they gave the maximum protection the athletes truly deserved.

PHOTO: IBF Super Flyweight Champion Jerwin Ancajas and challenger, Jonas Sultan with the author proudly displaying the mouthguards they will use on May 26, 2018.


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