A mouth guard, or gum shield, is a crucial piece of equipment for any fighter engaged in a contact martial art. Not only can it protect your teeth and jaw from impact, but it can also prevent concussions and brain injuries.
But not all mouth guards are created equal. I’ve tried everything from cheap, one-size-fits-all options to custom-fit guards made by dentists. And let me tell you, there’s a big difference in both comfort and protection.
It’s really important to make sure your mouth guard is properly fitted. If it’s loose or ill-fitted it can prevent you from breathing properly or it becomes uncomfortable during a fight. Perhaps more importantly, an incorrectly molded gum shield won’t protect your teeth or jaw if you’re hit.
Custom-fit guards, made by a dentist taking a mold of your teeth, are the best option for both a secure and comfortable fit.
However, I have had mouth guards that you mold yourself by dropping them in hot water and then carefully fitting them when the plastic has softened slightly.
When selecting this type of mouth guard, I look at the material it’s made from. I prefer ones made of a gel-like material as they are a bit softer and feel like they closely fit the shape of my teeth. I tend to avoid hard plastic or rubber guards, as they can cause injury if they’re hit during a fight.
I also look at the thickness of the guard. A thicker guard will offer more protection, but it may also make it more difficult to breathe and speak. I like to strike a balance by finding a guard that offers enough protection while still allowing me to communicate effectively with my coach during a match.
I really like the shock doctor mouth guards: they’re easy to mold, very comfortable and provide a high level of protection. You can see the price here on Amazon.
But let’s not forget, a mouth guard should be easy to put in and take out. I’ve had some that were a real struggle to get in my mouth, and others that would pop out during a fight. So make sure you practice putting it in and taking it out before you need to do so in a match.
Lastly, don’t skimp on the cost. While it’s tempting to save a few bucks on a cheaper mouth guard, remember that your teeth and jaw are worth the investment. Custom-fit guards can be expensive, but they will last much longer and offer better protection than a cheaper, off-the-shelf option.
In conclusion, mouth guards are an essential piece of equipment for any fighter. Invest in a properly fitted, comfortable and protective mouth guard made of gel-like material. A well fitted mouthguard will save you from dental bills and a lot of pain in the long run. And remember, practice putting it in and taking it out before you need it in a match.