Oerter: "I don't bite hard normally. I don't really know how much I bite down during the execution of a throw. I've never been aware of it. I'll have to experiment. There's no way I can bite the device in half or something?"
Kaufman: "Plastic can wear. It can fray at the edges. But I can just smooth it off or add more plastic to build it up. You just go in and do your thing as you've always done it. The more you get used to it, the more comfortable it is."
Oerter: "No trouble with ingesting?"
Kaufman pointed to the small wires that would hook onto Oerter's teeth. "You can eat with it, Al," he said. "If you take it out you may lose it. I knew a luger who took it out and put it on his lunch tray. He lost it.
"In 10 days your mouthpiece will be finished. It's also a non-surgical face lift, you know. As the jaw is moved down and out, it takes away wrinkles."
Oerter: "That's not important in discus throwing."
In the ensuing strength test, Kaufman managed to lower Oerter's arm about five or six inches when Oerter pressed on his TMJ without the cotton wads to bite on. Oerter acknowledged this weakening reluctantly.
After taking impressions of Oerter's upper and lower teeth, Kaufman found that his new patient's lower teeth are one half tooth off center. Oerter is also missing his upper 12-year-old molars, and his jaw is out of alignment. The MORA for him would be built to take all these flaws into account.
Recently Oerter was asked to comment on the benefits of his MORA after having worn it for several weeks. "What the hell is a MORA?" he asked. "Oh, the bite plate." Then he reported, "It certainly doesn't hurt to wear one, but to what extent it helps isn't known yet. It does help my lifting. I seem to be able to apply a little more strength by biting down on the plate and holding. There is less tension in the upper neck—which is very important to me because of my neck problems. There is less pressure with the bite plate. I don't think I experience the same increase in throwing, but if I can get an increase in lifting, it will eventually help the throwing. One drawback during competition is that it makes your mouth dry, which can be very disconcerting. Also, if you forget to bite down on it during competition, the effect is zero, at least as far as I am concerned. But so far it hasn't hurt, so I'll continue using it. The only way I can find out what it could eventually do for me is by continuing to experiment."
However, wearing the mouthpiece at the Mt. SAC Relays in April, Oerter won the discus with a throw of 214'3", beating both Mac Wilkins and John Powell. "It's the first time I've been able to get in front of them," he said. At the UCLA-Pepsi Invitational three weeks later. Oerter finished third, behind Wilkins and Powell, with a throw of 211'3". Considering that Oerter won his last Olympic gold medal with a 212'6�", it all conjures up visions of a Miracle Mouthpiece-equipped Oerter as a straight-jawed septuagenarian still going for gold medals.