If you are a combat sport professional, a combat mouthguard is your most crucial piece of equipment. If you don’t use a legitimate mouthguard, you are at risk of experiencing head damage and broken or knocked out teeth. Fighters need to use mouthguards regardless of whether they are sparring or clinching. A single light slug will remove a person’s teeth. Even with minimal contact and lightweight gloves, you can end up needing to visit a dentist if you don’t use mouth protection.
Some fighters say to themselves that “I won’t lose my teeth.” But, I’ve witnessed so many fighters get their teeth knocked out. It hurts so much getting teeth loosen, broken, or removed. I didn’t remember to put my mouthguard in before a sparring session, and I paid for my forgetfulness with a fractured tooth.
No matter how much you may pay for mouth protection, in the long run, you’ll save money avoiding the dentist fees you’ll have to pay for damaged molars. Never discount the value of having intact teeth and a beautiful smile. Don’t fear paying money for mouthguards to safeguard a valuable commodity – your teeth!
My Pick For Best Combat Sports Mouthguard
My top overall recommendation for combat sport mouthguards is to buy a tailor-made mouthguard made by Impact Custom Mouthguards.
Impact Custom Mouthguards (6-7mm Thick)
One of the best moves I’ve ever made was to go from a standard, non-custom mouthguard to a custom mouthpiece. Since then, I’ve had nothing but great experiences with my mouthguard. It’s true that you can purchase a low-cost, $10 store mouthpiece, but weigh the cost of replacing damage or missing teeth versus buying a custom mouthpiece. It’s not even close.
The distinction between a standard boil and bite mouthguard and a custom mouthguard is how the guard fits in your mouth. Because a boil and bite mouthguard is not precise fit, all you do when you’re through sparring is to pull it out. Using a tailored fit guard means that you must yank it out of your mouth at the end of sparring.
It is always preferable to buy a custom fit guard. The reason is that a non-custom guard has an inexact fit. Custom mouthguards are formed by using a process where you make a mouth mold. Once the mold finishes forming, it is sent to the guard maker, the mold is used to make the guard, and the guard is shipped to the fighter.
There is no comparison between a custom guard and a non-custom guard. Custom fit guards hold their position. They don’t slide around in your mouth. I’ve been hit as hard as you can imagine, but my custom mouthguard didn’t come out or come loose. It fits so snugly that I’ve talked at length with it still in my mouth.
Impact Custom mouthguards have a product line that costs from $59-89. I suggest you buy the 6-7mm extra thick model. The additional thickness spreads the punching impact around, lessening the force of the punch.
My Recommendation: The Impact Custom Mouthguards are the best mouthguards on the market. Buy them immediately!
You can never take your teeth for granted. Impact Custom Mouthguards make great mouth protection for less than $90. I like the thicker guards. They give you more teeth protection. However, use the slimmer guard for a smaller fitting solution.
The Mechanics of Mouthguards
Many protective mouthpieces are made to safeguard only the top teeth. Custom mouthguards do include bottom teeth impressions, but the custom fit only applies to the top jaw.
A mouthguard’s thickness depends on the materials that the makers used to make the guard. Mouthguards work by keeping your teeth from slamming down on each other, which helps to spread the shock of a punch around your jaw.
When you receive a punch or a kick to the face the force of the blow results in a shockwave that travels from your jaw throughout your head. A direct blow directly to the mouth has been known to break teeth. Many times, receiving an uppercut that lands below the jaw leads your teeth to crash down on each other, causing the lower teeth to push on the top teeth. Basically, your teeth clash together. This usually leads to cracked or broken teeth.
I suffered a chipped front tooth after I was hit with an uppercut while I was training. The shot caused my bottom teeth to collide against my front teeth, causing the front tooth to break off.
When the impact is forceful enough, the resulting jolt can break the lower jaw, or even result in a concussion if your brain is shaken from the force of the punch or kick.
Mouthguards are intended to absorb shocks and spread the force of the impact through a wide area, helping to lessen the resulting impact. By distributing the impact, it reduces the likelihood of damage and prevents and reduces the number of injuries you and other mouthguard users will receive. The outer cushion of the mouthguard will also prevent the lower jaw and upper jaw from colliding together, which can cause the teeth to fracture.
To summarize, mouthguards are great protection for your teeth, a great preventative measure against jaw fractures and reduces the likelihood of getting a concussion during sparring. Next to wearing headgear, using mouthguards are the best safety measure you can take during sparring sessions.
Fighting Mouthguards (MMA, Muay Thai, Boxing)
Mouthguards fall under two categories: Light Impact Mouthguards and High Impact Mouthguards (those used for fighting arts like Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai, and Western Boxing).
These two categories distinguish between a person who needs to buy a mouthguard to prevent themselves from teeth grinding in their sleep and a fighter who takes full impact punches to their face. Obviously, one mouthguard won’t work for these unrelated issues. At the same time, there are differences between using mouthguards for non-contact sports and using them for combat (full contact) sporting arts. For instance, a basketball player will use a thinner mouthguard than those used by Boxing, MMA, or Muay Thai fighters.
The Effective Use of Mouthguards
The most important thing to remember when using combat art mouthguards is that you need to constantly bite down on the guard, and especially bite down on it when there is a possibility of taking impact. Taking a punch with a too relaxed jaw can still result in problems, even when wearing a mouthguard. Your teeth will be protected, but your jaw will be shaken, causing you to be stunned and unsteady on your feet.
The act of clenching your teeth before getting hit in the face keeps your jaw shut, which lessens the possibility of suffering facial and teeth injuries. I have received several bad blows in sparring when I was relaxed, acting too casual, wasn’t clenching my teeth, and took a strike that I didn’t know was coming. Being able to prepare for the blow allows you to spread the impact of the punch or kick through your jaw, face, and head.
Combat sport mouthguards are made thicker than regular mouthguards to act as shock absorbers. Some combat sports mouthguards are made with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), a copolymer that helps to spread the impact of damage to your teeth. Sparring with a thinner mouthguard opens the door to tooth damage since a less protective mouthguard can’t lessen or spread a punch or kick’s force.
Thicker mouthguards provide additional shock absorption and causes the strike’s impact to be spread around instead of concentrating at the point of impact. This is a must-have for combat sports mouthguards and should be one of the main criteria you look for when purchasing mouthguards. A negative aspect of using thicker mouthguards is the period of adjustment required when you first begin using a new mouthguard. This fact is a main reason why you should always buy a custom mouthguard instead of the typical boil and bite mouthguards.
Mouthguard Characteristics to Consider Before Buying
Fit and Comfort
A mouthguard’s fit and comfort should be the number one consideration during evaluation and purchase. An ill-fitting mouthguard will be of no help when you sustain a strike. When preparing a boil and bite mouthguard for use, it must be properly molded to your mouth so that it will stay in place during sparring.
If a mouthguard has been correctly fitted, it will adhere to the teeth so tightly that the guard will hold tight in your mouth, even if your mouth is open. In the fighting arts, it is crucial that your mouthguard fits so tightly that it stays in place when you are hit in the mouth or face.
Size is an additional facet to consider when shopping for a mouthguard. I prefer to use a thicker mouthguard because it provides considerable protection from the shock of a sudden blow. The downside of bigger mouthguards are that they are less compact and protrude from the mouth.
Some mouthguards can cause breathing difficulties. You should select a mouthguard that fits well, has a design that appeals to you, and provides the necessary amount of protection.
One aspect to consider is how easy is it to breath with the mouthguard on. Some mouthguards completely block up the front of your mouth. This means it’s harder to take breaths with your mouth open. While you should be breathing out of your nose, the truth is that when you are tired — which will happen eventually in a fight match — you’ll be breathing out of your mouth. If your mouthguard impedes your breathing ability, you’ll take in less oxygen and feel more gased out.
To counter this, look for mouthguards which have some sort of vented mesh in the front area inside the front area. This allows you to breath with the mouthguard even when your teeth are fully clamped down.
Design and Style
The final consideration for buying a mouthguard is the guard’s design. You don’t have to settle for someone else’s design, either. If you decide to purchase a customized mouthguard, it is possible for you to have your name, a logo, or some other type of design printed on the guard. Not only that, you can have custom type, pictures, and colors printed on the guard.
Customizing your mouthguard will cost more money. Considering that using mouthguards are a long-term purchase, having your preferred names, logos, designs and colors printed on your mouthguard is a worthwhile idea to contemplate.
Boil and Bite Mouthguards
The most basic kind of combat sport mouthguards are the boil and bite mouthguard. These mouthguards are one-size fits all mouthguards requiring considerable work to make sure that they fit you properly. Following the preparation process will ensure that the mouthguard provides solid protection.
Boil and bite mouthguards are constructed with a plasticized gel created to become soft when heated in boiling water, and hardens once they have cooled. The procedure allows a fighter to boil the guard and having cooled off, bite down on the guard. This creates an impression of your teeth that hardens to conform to the inside of your mouth.
Boil and Bite Mouthguard Recommendation
Venum Predator Mouthguard
The Venum Predator Mouthguard is a boil and bite mouthguard that I suggest you buy if you are in the market to purchase one of these instead of a custom mouthguard.
The Predator mouthguard is my favorite boil and bite mouthguard because it offers additional protection not found in most of the other boil and bite brands. Even though it is not as adequate as a custom fit mouthguard, at a cost below $20, the Predator works well as a budget or an emergency mouthguard. After all, if you properly follow the boil and bite prep instructions, they will provide decent security and prevent you from losing your teeth.
Venum mouthguards are manufactured to include a high-density rubber frame that aids in shock absorption and lessening the impact of strikes.
If your main mouthguard buying concern is cost, the Venum Predator is a low-cost guard providing adequate security.
My Recommendation: The Venum Predator Mouthguard is a decent mouthguard if you are unable to buy a custom fit guard.
The Predator guard is a good starting guard for use in sparring sessions. Once you become more experienced and can afford a better guard, it will be better to switch to a custom-made guard.
To be honest, 95% of fighters who use mouthguards go with the boil and bite guards due to the low cost and the fact that they will provide protection if you correctly follow the preparation directions. Buying a custom mouthguard will lead to a greater expense, and means that you will must either go to a dental office to get them fitted or attempt to make your own mouth cast.
The boil and bite mouthguards are your only option if you are sparring, you need teeth protection, and you can’t spend more than $50.
- Most inexpensive guards on the market
- Quickest way to obtain mouth and tooth protection (takes 10 minutes to boil and make impression)
- Gives decent security. (My boil and bite mouthguard lasted three years. I never experienced any difficulty in using it.)
- Must self-cast the guard to your mouth
- Most likely, the fit will not be as tight as a custom-fit guard
- There’s a possibility it will be knock loose when you take a punch or kick
- If you don’t cast the guard problem, it can cause the guard to work poorly or not at all
Buying custom-fit mouthguards is the optimum way to protect your mouth and teeth during sparring and training. They are beneficial because you receive a tight fit and the work is done for you so you won’t have to perform the trial and error task of making the final casting of your mouth mold.
The process of making a custom mouthguard entails having a casting made of your teeth (usually done in a dental office), then the finished mouthguard is manufactured and is an exact fit to your mouth.
Custom mouthguards are the answer for the poor fit issues that come with using boil and bite guards. I’ve witnessed fighters using boil and bite mouthguards get hit, and the guard falls out. That’s a guard that does not fit properly, and one that will cause you to have cracked or broken teeth, or even worse, a broken jaw.
Custom mouthguards are ideal for fighters who are patient enough to wait for them to be made, and can afford the extra money they cost to buy. They provide the best protection, fit the best, and they won’t leave your mouth when your face or mouth takes a hard punch or kick.
Custom guards sell on the internet for less than $90. The deciding cost factors are the guard size and the guard manufacturer. After you have placed your guard order, the manufacturer will mail you a kit that allows you to make an impression of your teeth. Then, you send the mold to the guard maker, who will take your impression and create the finished guard and send it to you.
- You receive a perfectly fitting guard that is tight enough that you will need to pull it out of your mouth. It will not fit loose enough to use your tongue.
- It won’t shift when you receive a hard punch or kick to the face
- Your breathing and speech won’t be affected like it would with cheaper guards
- They are the right guards for serious fighters who need the most protection
- The guard impression will need to be made on your own or at a dentist’s office
- Custom mouthguards cost more than boil and bite guards
Choosing the Right Mouthguard
I wore boil and bite mouthguards when I began my Muay Thai training. These mouthguards will provide solid protection if you form them properly by following the casting instructions. I used them for a while, then switched over to a customized mouthguard.
My customized mouthguard fit better. The evidence of the tighter fit was that I could only remove with my hands, and couldn’t do so with my tongue. You should purchase a custom mouthguard if you have the money to spend. If you don’t, or until you do, the boil and bite mouthguard should work well for you.
Top Off-the-Shelf Mouthguard Brands
There is no different material construction among boil and bite mouthguards. Finding the best boil and bite mouthguard to suit you comes down to finding a manufacturer that you trust and a design that meet your specifications and preferences. The leading mouthguard makers all sell boil and bite mouthguards, and many also sell custom mouthguards.
I personally usually have a bite-and-boil off-the-shelf mouthguard in my bag, just as a backup or for emergencies. But my go-to mouthguard is always going to be a custom mouthguard — they just fit a lot better inside your mouth.
Shock Doctor Mouthguards
Most fighters have used Shock Doctor mouthguards. They are the one of the most popular, if not the most popular mouthguard in the marketplace.
Shock Doctor manufacturers a wide range of mouthguards for many types of sports and other physical pursuits. If you decide to buy a Shock Doctor mouthguard, you will need to specify that you need one for combat sports. Not only do they sell mouthguards for Muay Thai, but they also sell Mixed Martial Arts and Western Boxing mouthguards.
Shock Doctor made the first boil and bite mouthguard I owned, and I did not have any tooth or jaw injuries when I used it. By following the molding instructions, you will have a quality mouthguard for a relatively low cost.
Venum is a combat sports gear manufacturer that also makes mouthguards. They make a lot of Muay Thai accessories, and many fighters swear by their products.
Venum is known for their MMA merchandise, but they sell an excellent boil and bite mouthguard that features several designs.
Despite some fighters concerns about the brand’s MMA emphasis, the Venum mouthguards are decently priced and made with a high level of quality.
Next to headgear, using a mouthguard during sparring is the best decision that a fighter can make. I will not engage in a sparring session or even clinch with my sparring partner if I’m not wearing my mouthguard. Watching other fighter get their teeth knocked out was enough to convince me that this is the right thing to do.
I had a trainer hit with an unexpected punch during a pad holding session. The uppercut hit me on the chin and rattled my teeth. As with this situation, there are times when you will be hit unexpectedly. When this is possible, you need to be ready and wearing the proper mouth protection.
Fighters can learn a hard lesson if they engage in any potential striking with situation without adequate protection. They can lose teeth or break a jaw, leading to dental and medical bills and lost training time. It is much wiser to spend the money to protect your teeth and jaw.
Remember that spending the extra money for a custom fit guard is your best choice. You will have a better fit and the guard will remain in your mouth even while you’re talking.
You don’t need to be cheap concerning your dental health. This is particularly true when dental visits for teeth repairs and replacements can cost lots of money. I prefer to be safety conscious and wear my mouthguard even when I might not need it. That way, I’m less likely to not wear it when I do need it. Don’t go without a mouthguard even when there is supposedly little or no contact expected. You never know when and where the next punch or kick will come.