In sports with a high level of physical contact, it is important to take appropriate safety measures. One way to do that in sports where blows to the face or head are likely is to wear a mouthguard.
However, as with any type of sporting equipment, there are lots of variations in the types of mouthguards you can buy.
In this article, we will look at the different types of guards available, and how to ensure that you are getting the best out of your mouthguard.
Types Of Mouthguard
There are three main types of mouthguards that are suitable for contact sports such as martial arts.
The type that is most suitable for you depends on the specific needs of your sport and physiology.
The most readily available and cheapest option is ready-made mouthguards.
Sometimes known as stock mouthguards, you will be able to find these are most sporting goods stores and some drug stores.
Ready-made mouthguards generally come in small, medium, and large sizes and are only designed to cover your top teeth.
While ready-made mouthguards are the most budget-friendly option, and ultimately any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard, there are a few downsides to using a stock mouthguard.
Because of the limited range of sizes, stock or ready-made mouthguards often do not fit correctly or comfortably.
This can not only hinder the user’s ability to breathe effectively during activity but also does not provide the tight fit required for optimum protection.
Boil And Bite
Boil and bite mouthguards are in a similar price bracket as ready-made mouthguards.
They are also readily available from most sporting goods stores and drug stores which makes them a convenient choice.
The main benefit that the boil and bite mouthguards offer is a more custom fit inside your mouth.
Boil and bite mouthguards come in one size and mold to your mouth and teeth.
The mouthguard is softened by boiling it in water.
Once the rubber has softened to the point of being malleable, the intended user then positions the guard in their mouth and bites firmly to shape it.
It is important to make sure there is no boiling water inside the mouthguard when shaping it to avoid burns and scalds.
Also, ensure that the user does not bite too hard when molding so as to not break through the rubber.
In order to get a comfortable fit, make sure to follow the instructions provided with the mouthguard properly.
Occasionally, multiple attempts may be required to achieve the most comfortable fit.
This is the most expensive mouthguard that you can purchase, but it does provide the most comfortable fit and best protection. Custom-made mouthguards are available for purchase from your dentist or orthodontist.
Your dentist will make a mold of your mouth using a soft putty, much like the process used when getting braces or a retainer.
Once the mold has been created, your dentist will then make a mouthguard with a secure fit and high level of protection.
While custom-made mouthguards are the most expensive, they provide the best protection during contact sports.
They may also be the most necessary option, particularly if you have braces on your teeth as other options may be uncomfortable or not provide an appropriate amount of protection.
The Best Type Of Mouthguard For Martial Arts
When participating in martial arts, the risk of facial impact and injury can be high.
A mouthguard not only protects your teeth and gums from trauma or injury, but it also protects your tongue, lips, and cheeks from injury caused by your teeth.
Because of the high likelihood of facial impact, it is important that the mouthguard you choose fits in your mouth securely and is comfortable.
Therefore, boil and bite or custom-made mouthguards are the best choices.
It is sensible to purchase the best mouthguard available within your budget.
Custom-made mouthguards will always provide better protection than a boil and bite, but if that is not within your budget, a boil and bite mouthguard will provide adequate protection for sparring.
What To Look For In A Mouthguard
There are a few factors that help you know whether a mouthguard is providing adequate protection and comfort during your sporting activity.
Am I Able To Breathe And Speak?
It is important when wearing a mouthguard for a sport that you are able to breathe properly and speak clearly.
In order to check whether or not your mouthguard affects your speech and breathing is to wear it for a day just going about your daily activities.
If you struggle to have a conversation with someone or are finding it hard to breathe with the mouthguard in place, it is possibly too big for your mouth or has not been molded to your tongue and teeth properly.
How Much Coverage Is Provided?
A correctly sized and molded mouthguard should cover all of your upper teeth, excluding your back molars.
The guard should extend slightly above the top of your teeth to provide protection for your gums, but should not have too much contact with your maxillary labial frenum.
Similarly, if the guard covers too much of your soft palate or is too thick it will be uncomfortable and may need to be remolded.
Does It Fit Securely?
The last thing you want when wearing a mouthguard is for it to slip out of place or fall out of your mouth during a sporting activity.
A mouthguard should fit securely in your mouth for the duration of your sporting activity and not require the clenching of your teeth to hold it in place, nor should it be easily dislodged by your tongue.
There are a few different options of mouthguards available to fit different budgets.
It is important to make sure that whichever style of mouthguard you choose, the guard fits securely in your mouth and is comfortable to wear.
While they are a piece of safety equipment, you should not have to choose between comfort and function.