In a time where 96% of the American adults believe that an attractive smile is a game-changer, you really don’t want to take a chance with your teeth.
Jokes aside, a mouthpiece is one of the most important equipment and it’s necessary when you’re participating in sports such as Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing or MMA. Y
ou simply cannot enter the ring or the octagon without a mouthguard in place. These guards aren’t just for badass aesthetic add-ons but also for a fighter’s safety.
Mouthguard minimizes the impact of the strikes on the jaw or mouth. They’re able to do so by distributing the impact of the hit to an entire jaw instead of a single region. If you don’t wear a mouthguard in sparring let alone a fight, you risk losing your teeth or fracturing your jaw when you get hit on your mouth.
Astoundingly, they don’t just prevent your teeth and jaw but also prevent concussions and head trauma. I know, you’d be thinking how is that related? Well if your teeth get knocked out, the pain and trauma are going to communicate to your brain. So, that’s how it can affect.
If the reasons mentioned above weren’t enough, you should also know that these mouthpieces which are capable of preventing career-threatening injuries are extremely affordable. It’s much cheaper than the amount you’ll have to pay to your dentist to get your teeth fixed. Thus, not buying a mouthguard is a stupid decision. With that said, buying any mouthpiece without understanding the dynamics is a waste of money too.
What should you know about mouthpiece manufacturers?
We know that sports such as boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and MMA are ever-growing and so are the participants in each of this sport. With the rise of these sports, there’s a stiff competition between manufacturers trying to provide sporting equipment. And that makes buying even simple equipment like a mouthpiece really challenging. This isn’t an affiliate blog where I just throw a few random names and urge you to buy them, I’d like you to understand how mouthguards work first.
How do Mouthguards work?
When you get hit by a move such as an uppercut on your lower jaw, it can cause your teeth to slam and can lead to a fracture or the change in placement. Any shot with high impact sends a shockwave from your jaw to your skull.
A mouthguards’ outer cushion prevents the upper and lower jaw collision which essentially leads to fracture. Furthermore, if the impact isn’t distributed well, it can seriously damage a particular area which can be career-threatening. Mouthpieces work to prevent injuries by distributing the weight.
Importance of wearing a mouthpiece
Cushioning the teeth
Mouthpieces help cushion the teeth by preventing them from direct impact. With a mouthguard, the force can be distributed evenly which can prevent your teeth from getting fractured and being broken completely. Thus, the primary reason why you should wear a mouthguard is that it cushions your teeth.
Protects against jaw joint injuries
A nasty hook or an uppercut can be fatal for a jaw joint. In sports such as MMA and Kickboxing, even knees can land considerable damage. By wearing a mouthguard, you’re essentially preventing yourself from “Luke Rockhold Chin Lapses”.
Protects against soft tissues injuries
A soft tissue injury refers to damaged muscles, ligament and tendons. These are caused due to strain, one off blow, sprain or overuse of certain parts of the body. These are the worst types of injuries. A fatal blow which is visible is far better than soft tissue injuries which are often undetectable. A cut or a wound can heal in a quick time but soft tissue injuries take a considerable amount of time when it comes to recovery. Mouthguard, yet again, comes to the rescue by preventing this situation.
Helps prevent jaw and neck injuries
As opposed to soft tissues injury, these are more detectable but equally painful. Neck injuries can easily end an athlete’s career. A single shot to the neck can end a career. Thus, a mouthpiece is career-saving equipment in this instance. By distributing the weight equally, it reduces the impact of preventing jaw damage or a serious neck injury.
May help reduce concussion
By preventing the pain shock wave transmission straight to the head, a mouthguard can readily prevent concussion. You already know the terrible effects of concussion and if a mouthpiece can prevent such a condition, not opting for it is a crazy decision even if you are just sparring.
You must have seen basketball players wearing a mouthguard too. Thus, the safety aspect is not just related to fighting sports but other sports as well.
Quite recently, we’ve seen WWE Superstar Cesaro wearing a mouthguard after he lost his teeth in an in-ring mishap. We can’t blame WWE as it’s sports entertainment, however, when it comes to combat sports, there’s no playing around.
Nonetheless, mishaps and blows are an integral part of fight sport and preventing jaws and the skull no doubt is of priority.
Light Impact Mouthpieces vs High Impact Mouthpieces
- Light Impact Mouthpieces
- High Impact Mouthpieces
Light impact Mouthpieces are used in non-combat sports such as basketball. These are lighter and thinner as compared to high impact mouthpieces.
High impact Mouthpieces are used in combat sports such as boxing, MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and so on. These guards weigh heavier and have an integral role in preventing fatal injuries. High impact mouthpieces require a considerable amount of input from the fighters.
Using a mouthguard in Combat Sports
Using a mouthguard in a combat sport requires you to use the mouthguard effectively. For instance, you need to bite down the guard before you get punched hard. By biting the mouthguard, you are preparing your jaw for the impact and possibly preventing yourself from getting ‘rocked’.
When you clench your teeth before the heavy impact, you reduce the striking effect by distributing the force which prevents trauma. Never fool around with a loose jaw because if you get caught by an unexpected punch, though your teeth will be protected, your jaws will be in a terrible state.
Mouthguards in Contact Sports such as Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing are thicker and are designed with EVA material which enhances shock absorption capabilities. With that said, you should never spar with a thinner mouthguard as it doesn’t have the necessary defense mechanism required to protect your teeth. In the case of thinner mouthguards, it may not be able to disperse the impact throughout the face and thus can result in a broken jaw or broken teeth.
Types of different mouthpieces
Generally, there are three types of mouthpieces – stock, custom made or boil-and-bite mouthpieces.
These are readily available in pharmacies, sporting equipment store or any departmental store. A Stock mouthpiece is made up of rubber, polyvinyl chloride or polyvinyl acetate copolymer. Though these are extremely inexpensive, they are only available in limited sizes.
They do not fit well and often inhibit speech and overall breathing. Thus, when it comes to contact sports, you should never opt for stock mouthpieces as they are very discomforting and cause irritations. What’s worse? They don’t offer decent protection from an impact sport standpoint.
Custom made mouthpieces
As the name suggests, a custom-made mouthpiece is tailor-made to suit your need. These allow you to converse clearly and reduce irritation.
Nonetheless, these are pretty expensive, especially if you’re getting one made from your orthodontist. With regards to protection though, it’s far better than a stock mouthpiece.
These are the most preferred types of mouthpieces as they are a step up from stock mouthpieces and are nowhere nearly as expensive as the custom-made mouthpieces. These mouthguards fit perfectly and provide great protection. Even in terms of their design, they’re well-thought-of and minimize the overall damage considerably.
Now that Stock mouthpiece is completely out of this conversation in regards to combat sports, let us learn more about custom made mouthguards and boil-and-bite mouthguards.
Boil-and-Bite Mouthpieces Overview
As said earlier, these are the most popular mouthpieces out there. These DIY mouthpieces require you to work to ensure that they fit perfectly. Though understanding the functionality might seem like a hassle at first, trust me, it’s not complicated at all. You can watch this clip below and you’ll know how to use a boil-and-bite mouthpiece in under 2 minutes.
The Boil-and-Bite mouthpieces are made from a gel similar to a plastic, designed to soften when the guard is head in the water. Thus, when you heat this mouthguards it’ll soften and when you cool it down, it’ll harden up. Boiling the guard also allows it to get used to your teeth which happens due to the creation of the outline of your teeth. Mouthpiece thus fits your teeth perfectly after the initial outline is created.
Boil-and-Bite Mouthguard is a go-to option if you’re not looking to spend more than $50. It’s certainly effective and provides the protection needed, way better than the stock ones.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Boil-and-Bite Mouthpieces
Most affordable option
Requires molding as per your teeth
Might lack the tightness sometimes
Boils under 30 seconds
Might loosen with a heavy impact
Adequate protection and no loophole in defense
Ineffective molding might result in an effective guard
Custom made Mouthpieces Overview
Undoubtedly, custom made mouthpieces provide the best protection. The best part about these mouthguards is that you can get achieve the exact fit and don’t have to mold the guard to fit your teeth. However, the science behind the guard is the same. In Boil-and-Bite you have to mold it every time whilst with Custom made, you just have to take an imprint of your teeth and the mouthpiece is then made based upon the exact dimensions.
Custom mouthpieces solve the issues of improper fitting or falling out after a hit as observed in boil-and-bite mouthguards. Though these do provide the best-in-class protection and fit, they require you to shell out a considerable amount of money. At an entry-level, a custom mouthpiece can be bought for under $100 based upon the pint, size, and the brand.
When you order a mouthpiece, you’ll get an impression kit which you’ll need to mold your teeth. After you’ve done it, you’ll then send it back to the manufacturer who will use the impression kit as a reference to design your actual custom kit.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Custom-made Mouthpieces
Exact fit based on the impression
You need to do the initial mold on your own
Stays intact throughout
Expensive than boil-and-bite mouthpieces
Ideal for professional fighters
Factors to consider when buying a mouthpiece
Buying a mouthpiece without considering these essential factors is like throwing money away. If a mouthpiece isn’t of the right size, it doesn’t fit well or feels comfortable, it would be of no use. Moreover, it can end up doing more damage than benefiting. Here are a number of factors that you must consider before buying a mouthpiece:
Size matters, you should opt for a perfect mouthpiece capable of absorbing the shock. Your mouthguard shouldn’t be thin and at the same time shouldn’t be too bulky. If you have a larger mouthpiece, it won’t be comfortable and will generally stick out thereby causing further irritation. Breathing too relies on the size of your mouthguard, thus, if it’s thick, it might obstruct the breathing.
Fit and Comfort
Size and the aspect of comfort go hand-in-hand. The more comfortable you are with your mouthpiece, the less irritated you’ll be with it. Getting the right fit is extremely important and at the same time, it should feel comfortable. It’s okay if it doesn’t feel right when you try it for the first time but within 2-3 times, you should feel confident with your mouthpiece.
Design and Style
The least important factor yet one which matters the most to the fighters is the design and style of your mouthpiece. A boil-and-bite mouthguard does not offer you to the lavishness of getting your own logo or your name printed on the guard. Thus, if such a thing makes a difference then you should opt for custom-made mouthguard.
While it’s okay for you to think that it’ll never happen to me, I’ve seen a couple of guys lose their teeth while sparring. Putting your teeth on your line by not buying mouthpieces is simply one of the worst decisions you can make as an athlete. This situation reminds me of Javier Mendes, Khabib’s coach, telling him to wear a mouthpiece time and time again. Though it’s funnier now, even a guy like Khabib can be knocked off and be made to realize the importance of mouthguards in a gym, sparring or any other contact sport.
The price you pay for a mouthguard is not even a fraction of what you’ll need to pay to your dentist when your teeth get shattered. Thus, wear a mouthpiece, that’s an obvious conclusion. You can decide whether you want to go for boil-and-bite or custom mouthguard, but you must wear a mouthpiece at all cost.