I opened the Sports Section of the Times this morning and did a double take. A photo of two Olympic winners, one with metal covering his teeth and one biting his gold metal (biting gold is definitely a no-no). But what was that mouth metal all about? It didn’t look like an orthodontic device and didn’t look like an athletic guard. Why would a swimmer want to carry extra weight anyway?
I turned to Google and discovered that this mouthpiece is called a “grill.” The Olympic gold metal winner, Ryan Lochte, sported a grill design inspired by the American flag. Last year in Shanghai he wore a diamond-studded grill. But this time the mouthpiece almost cost Lochte his medal. Lochte said he was told that he would not receive his medal if he wore the grill on the podium during the awards ceremony. He put on the grill after receiving the gold.
Grills, a kind of jewelry worn over the teeth, are typically worn by hip hop singers. They are made of metal, are usually removable and can cost anywhere from one hundred dollars to several thousand. They have been worn in hip hop culture since the 1980’s and have become more popular since the mid-2000’s because of new rap groups sporting the grill. According to Wikipedia, “whether they are safe for long-term wear is unknown.” I wonder where that piece of information came from and what the ADA has to say about the safety of the device. I can think of a lot of problems with it and imagine that we will be hearing a lot about this issue in the days to come.
Ryan Lochte may become more famous for his smile than for his swimming expertise.