When you’re taking part in any combat sport or martial art, wearing a mouth guard is a vital piece of equipment that will help protect you against injuries to your mouth, jaw, and teeth. Let’s face it, we all hate to visit the dentist.
A mouth guard generally only needs to be worn during sparring and competitions as that is when you are going to be getting strikes to the head. However, some people choose to wear it throughout all training as it allows them to train the same as if they were in a fight. This is mostly because mouth guards can feel odd in your mouth, so wearing them more often can make mouth guards feel more natural for you.
However, Colgate suggests that:
‘Many people who could benefit from the protection offered by a guard choose not to use them. While damage to the mouth and face is common in many sports, only 41% of players reported using a mouthguard.’
This means that you must get a reliable gum shield that will protect you and stay in place during sparring, and fighting. Below is our ultimate guide to mouth guards and how to choose the best one for you.
How should a Gum Shield Fit?
You can either get a rubber-style mouth guard that you place in boiling hot water to soften the plastic and then insert to your upper teeth, firmly pressing down on it to mold to the shape of your teeth (see picture below).
With the more advanced gum shields, you can get molds specially made by your dentist. This is a more expensive option but it will fit perfectly meaning that the mouth guard will feel much more natural in your mouth.
How does a Gum Shield Work?
An effective mouthguard is like a ‘crash helmet’ for teeth and jaws. It also prevents the jaws from coming together fully, thereby reducing the risk of jaw joint injuries and concussions.
Bridge Street Dental Surgery suggests that:
‘Gum shields are very important for contact sports such as rugby, hockey, martial arts, and boxing…
Gum shields work by absorbing and distributing the force of an impact.’
Why do Referees Remove the Mouthguard when a Fighter is Knocked Out?
This is something you commonly see when a referee dives in to remove a fighter’s mouthguard. The referee does this to help the fighter breathe and prevent him from choking.
The referees’ first instinct is to make sure the fighter is breathing OK. Also when you are unconscious you lose your gag reflexes, so if the mouthpiece slips toward their throat the fighter will not choke and spit it out and may get in serious trouble.
Read our article ‘A fighter can’t have a glass chin’ here.
What are the Benefits of Wearing a Mouthguard?
Mouthguards help protect your teeth against knocks, hits, and any other trauma to the mouth. However, there are other benefits to mouthguards too:
- Cushions teeth against impact
- protects soft tissues in the mouth from injury
- Prevents neck & jaw injuries
- Protects jaw joint injuries
- Reduces the risk and severity of concussion