Most people who train Muay Thai eventually progress to sparring, even for those who have no intention of competing. Sparring allows the practitioner to put the skills to the test against an actual living opponent but without the prominent risks of competing. However, that doesn’t eliminate health risks entirely and injuries do happen from time to time during even light technical sparring. Bruises are common and usually shrugged off but practitioners do suffer from more serious injuries like black eyes, and a broken tooth or two. Whichever way you approach it, there is going to be a lot of face punching in most combat sports. It is thus important to be suitably protected with the right gear.
Gone are the days when it’s the ugly mugs who are the only people training in fight sports. There are lots of good looking people training Muay Thai, boxing and all combat arts imaginable. But ugly mug or not, no one wants to leave the gym with a broken tooth or make an immediate post-training to the dentist. This is why sparring should never be carried out without mouth guards. A toothless grin is just not a very pretty sight.
While the eyes are windows to the soul, a survey has shown that the number one thing people notice about others they meet is their smile. This was a 47% compared to 31% of people who chose eyes. On top of that, another survey shows that a whooping 96% of American adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex. These studies may have been conducted by dentistry bodies but tooth be told, the numbers should not be too far off.
Benefits Importance of Wearing Mouthguard
Other than wearing gloves, shin guards and groin protectors, the mouthguard is a mandatory sparring equipment. A good mouthguard not only protects your teeth from getting knocked out, there are few other reasons why they are worn religiously by fighters:
Watch your mouth
The teeth can be knocked out in a few ways besides a direct hit to the front teeth. An upper cut to the lower jaw can force the bottom row of teeth to clash into the upper row resulting in chipping or breaking off. A mouthguard would absorb the impact of the clash in such scenarios and protect the teeth from breakage. This alone is reason enough for you to wear a mouthguard during sparring. Other than the teeth, a mouth guard will protect the lips and gums too.
The right way to wear a mouthguard is to bite down on it which helps to stabilize the jaws. Doing this reduces the risk of jaw fractures and sprains that can result from a strong hook. A dislocation can be a real bummer so wear your guard and bite down. Always.
There have been studies with regards to mouth guards’ effect in reducing the risks of concussion and spinal injuries. So far, findings remain inconclusive but it’s not a bad thing to err on the side of caution by going with a bit more extra protection. Better to be safe, not sorry.
|Types of Mouthguards
There are 3 main types of mouthguards that are used by martial artists and athletes of contact sports. You can get a stock, boil-and-bite or a custom made mouth guard. Ready-made stock guards can be easily found in every sporting goods store and can be had for cheap. However, they won’t fit accurately or comfortably. Boil-and-bite guards are a step-up from stock guards and don’t cost very much more. Good boil-and-bite guards will fit almost perfectly and offer better protection over stock guards. For the perfect fit, a custom-made is the way to go. This can be done by heading to your dentist or purchasing a custom-made kit. Good custom-made guards fit comfortably in your mouth and even allow you to have a proper conversation without sounding like you have a mouthful of marbles. The drawback is a higher price tag, especially if you get one made at the dentist.
Best MouthGuards for Muay Thai Boxing MMA
Now the best part. There are loads of mouthguard options out in the market from sporting store cheapies to expensive custom-mades. No worries. I have done some legwork and shortlisted the best choices for you below:
Almost everyone who’s done their share of research will start off with a Shock Doctor mouthguard. Shock Doctor offers a wide range of mouth guards designed for different contact sports including martial arts and this particular model is the best-selling mouth guard brand in the market. As with all their mouth guards, this is a boil-and-bite that gets the job done without breaking budgets.
The outer/bottom rubber layer in the Gel Max has indentations which makes it easier to bite down. This is unlike most mouth guards which tend to have a flat, rigid outer layer that can feel unnatural and uncomfortable to bite on. The inner gel layer moulds to the shape of the teeth but can take a few boils to get the fit right even if you follow the instructions of the moulding process. Many people find it a little bulky and it’s certainly hard to speak with it in your mouth but you will get used to it after a little while.
Shock Doctor mouth guards can be found in many sporting goods stores, both online and brick-and-mortar. If you are looking for a cheap, quick and easy solution, this will do just fine.
You no longer have to make that trip to the dentist. With Impact Custom Mouthguards, you can now get a custom mouthguard right in the comfort of your own home. After placing your order, Impact will ship you a kit which you will use to make an impression of your teeth with the instructions provided. Send that impression back using a postage paid label provided and they will craft you a custom mouth guard based on the teeth impression. That’s it! Your very own custom mouthguard. The cool thing about custom mouthguard is that it will stay in place even if you don’t bite down on it. And of course, it does a fine job of protecting your teeth from being smashed.
Impact custom mouth guards come in a few thickness (3mm, 5mm, and a 6-7mm). For Muay Thai and other combat sports, go with the thickest for maximum protection. There is a wide range of colors and designs to choose from and all BPA-free to ensure your health and safety. With a great fit that allows you to speak clearly, nothing beats that. As far as fit and safety goes, this is one of the best choices available.
Mouth Guard for Braces
I have seen a few posts on forums from people asking about sparring when you have braces on. There is obviously a lot more at stake here for people wearing braces since a knock to the teeth can result in a nasty cut on the lips. Or worse, further aggravating the already crooked teeth. Turns out that there are mouthguards that are designed specially for braces, again courtesy of Shock Doctor, for single row of teeth or double row. They may be bulky but will more often than not get the job done.
The thing to note about these mouthguards is that they are not boil-and-bite and will obviously not fit as accurately. The best option for people wearing braces is a custom-fit from the dentist/orthodontist but if you are looking for a cheaper option to cope with light-mid level sparring, these are highly recommended.
If you have been to the dentist before, you obviously know the drill. It’s costly and not fun at all. Stay safe and protect your smile! The cost of a good mouthguard is a lot more affordable and less agonizing an experience than going to the dentist to get your teeth fixed. At my gym, no one is allowed to spar without wearing mouthguards but it is a personal responsibility, so make it a point to wear them. If you forgot to bring them, it may be better to skip the sparring instead. Accidents happen and there’s a reason they are called accidents because no one expected it. Keep on Muay Thai but remember to stay safe too.