Jaw-dropping fitness promised

The Chronicle Herald

Truro dentist designs mouthpiece meant to improve tongue position during workouts

It was an image indelibly marked in the minds of sports fans around the world during the 1980s and '90s.

Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan, driving through the lane, tongue sticking out, before launching through the air to complete one of his many highlight-reel dunks.

A Truro dentist used that image as inspiration to design a lower-jaw mouthpiece that he said will help with the position of the tongue while working out, which will, in turn, improve overall athletic performance for the general public.

The recently released New Age Performance mouthpiece helps everyday people with increased strength, flexibility and range of motion, Dr. Anil Makkar claims.

"Basically, when somebody sticks their tongue out, it brings the jaw down and forward, and it puts them in very relaxed position," Makkar said in an interview Thursday in between patients at Victoria Court Dental.

"So we came up with a fitting process. Basically when you actually put this guard in your mouth, we get you to stick your tongue out just a little bit in between your lips so it actually brings the jaw down and forward, and then we get you to bite into it."

He had been the founder of the Makkar Athletics Group Inc., which developed the Pure Power Mouthguard five years ago, a device marketed to elite pro athletes, including former NBA centre Shaquille O'Neal and current NHL players Jason Spezza and Saku Koivu, and came with a price point of $1,200 to $2,000.

A Calgary investor eventually forced the company into receivership in January 2011.

Then earlier this year, in July, Robert Charlton, head of The Next Trend Designs Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., approached Makkar about developing an affordable mouthpiece for everyday, active people.

Sold for $49.97 along with a water bottle, the lower mouthpiece has some similarities with the Pure Power Mouthguard, but it is made with different material and has a thicker biting surface. The device does not act as a traditional mouthguard by protecting the upper teeth.

It is distributed worldwide out of Mississauga.

"What this does is it decreases forward head posture, and people that have forward head posture, their body is not aligned properly," said Makkar, who has been practising cosmetic dentistry in Truro for 23 years.

"What that allows you to do, when you're working out on the weights, or even when you're running, you're working out more efficiently. You're getting a better workout."

But he acknowledged the product does have its share of critics and skeptics, who remain unconvinced that the mouthpiece could have any discernible effect on performance.

"What we're noticing is that people that are skeptical are people that have never tried it, but the people that have tried it are really great believers in the product.

"A lot of people don't understand how the bite really affects your whole body. So the whole concept is basically on fooling your jaw that you have the correct bite.

"When these muscles are relaxed, the body doesn't have to exert a lot of energy for other parts of the body to work."

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