How to Choose a Mouth Guard When You Practise Martial Arts

Posted on: 21 November 2016


Not all mouth guards are made equal when fighting, especially not when wearing braces and practising martial arts.

Your orthodontist will be able to create you a custom fit mouth guard, designed for maximum comfort and protection; however, if you want to buy it yourself, there are two types of 'standard' guards from which you can choose:

Ready Made

Ready made guards are the cheapest but not recommended. They don't account for changes in your denture over time, nor for the extra bulk of braces over your teeth. They can be uncomfortable and inflexible and don't protect your mouth from the metal brackets and wiring. They may even do damage on their own since the hard plastic can push the brackets or force the wiring during impact.

Boil and Bite

Boil and bite are the best protection for the price. Their low price makes them easy to toss and replace every time your teeth adjust. However, since the plastic is thin and malleable, they're not as protective. They are the best choice if you don't spar full contact, don't compete or if you practice a style that's not focused on striking (such as bjj, judo, aikido, etc.)

Custom Fit

Custom fit mouth guards are the most expensive, but they offer maximum comfort and protection, especially when it comes to orthodontics. Your orthodontist will be able to make you one that fits like a glove. Most dentists recommend choosing this type over their cheaper boil and bite cousins.

One or Two Guards

Usually you will only need an upper guard. However, if you practice wrestling or have your lower teeth in braces, you'll need a double guard, which covers both arches. However, most combination-type upper and lower guards don't 'cling' to your teeth, so you could do more harm than good when they rattle around when hit if you don't hold onto them tight. Night guards are a good alternative, as they cover the lower teeth and are light and flexible. They're used mostly by people who grind their teeth at night to prevent friction. A combination of a custom or boil and bite guard on top and a night guard on top will protect you adequately.

Keep in mind that anything you'll buy will need to be changed often. Your teeth will change positions as the braces adjust them, and small differences can be noted every 2–3 weeks. Every couple of months at the most you will need to change your guard, as it will not fit you properly anymore.

Prevention is the best protection, though. Try to keep to light sparring while you have braces, avoid head hits and work on your footwork and blocking in case someone gets too excited!