Mouthguards or Gumshields are an important devise for protecting your teeth from taking unnecessary damage. Here’s the top options available for grapplers and MMA enthusiasts, suitable for Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Wrestling and more.
One thing is for sure if you train any grappling martial art for an extended period there will be injuries. Sometimes there minor like a mat burn sometimes their serious breaks, but one of the most avoidable injuries is damage to the teeth.
In martial arts that involve striking a mouth guard is essential, the risks are obvious, the consequences well known and even with the right precautions damage can still occur. Mouthguards are mandatory in other contact sports too such as Ice Hockey, Rugby and Lacrosse. Sometimes mouthguards designed to be sport specific such as those used by American Football which allow for the mouthguard to be connected to the helmet.
When sparing in BJJ, Judo, Wrestling or any grappling style the chances of getting caught accidentally by a blow to the face increase significantly over drilling. In an intense sparing session training partners limb’s might not always be where you thought they were, and one explosive movement can result in a strike to the face. Anyone who has trained with an over enthusiastic shiny new white belt can attest for the way they can flail and swing through lack of skill and knowledge.
Working on takedowns or sparing from a standing position come with the risk of accidentally taking a blow to the face and although rare clashes of heads can do serious damage to the teeth.
The primary function of the mouthguard is to prevent damage occurring from the top row of teeth clashing with the bottom row of teeth. But mouthguards also offer some protection to the gums, cheeks, lips and tongue, hence why they are called mouthguards not tooth guards.
Pros and Cons of a Mouthguard
Pros – Prevents your mouth from taking unnecessary damage, prevents costly trips to the dentist
Cons – Can have a negative impact on breathing, difficult to communicate (not ideal if you want to verbally tap), can cause a gagging sensation
As you can see there are quite a few cons which put many people off purchasing a mouthguard, however if you select the correct mouthguard all of these can be overcome leaving you with a great fitting gumshield that provides the protection your teeth and wallet need.
Single vs Double Mouthguard
The single mouthguard is easily the more popular of the two types on offer. This type of mouthguard fits along the top row of teeth and is less restrictive on breathing and is easier to speak with. The double mouthguard offers additional protection to the bottom teeth and is used by some boxers and kickboxers. For grappling the double mouthguards it is not necessary, its is to restrictive of breathing and you can’t verbally submit, which could result in a serious injury.
There are three types of product on the market today they are; ready made, boil and bite and custom made.
Readymade mouthguards as the name implies are delivered to you ready to pop in and use. They require no alteration and are based on a one-size fits all approach. They are ideal if you don’t want the hassle of modifying a guard to fit. However, they can be a poor fit, are uncomfortable to wear and depending on your jaw may not fit at all.
Although it is still possible to buy a readymade mouthguard, they have become far less popular since the advent of the boil and bite.
Boil and Bite
This is the middle of the road option; the mouthguard is placed in boiling water for the prescribed time period to soften before being placed in the mouth and bitten down on. The biting motion means the guard is shaped to your specific tooth requirements.
Boil and bite are the most commonly used mouthguards amongst amateurs as it offers a balance between custom fit and the less comfortable ready-made options. The success of a boil and bite is dependent on the user correctly following the manufactures instructions and these can vary between products.
These are the mouthguards commonly used by professional athletes and contact sports where regular blows to the head are expected. Custom made mouthguards will require a trip to the dentist who will take an impression of the teeth using a putty. This impression will form the basis of the design of the custom mouthguard. At the top end of the market it is even possible for a 3D scan to be used to generate a mouthguard design.
Custom mouthguards are by far the most expensive option and are probably not viable for most casual grapplers. The premium price does come with the benefit of a smooth fit and ease of breathing, which is difficult to match for the other options on this list.
What is the Best Mouthguard?
In summery the mouthguard/gumshield type that is going to be suitable for most grapplers is the single boil and bite mouthguard. So, what’s available on the market today? Well as it happens there are quite a few different choices each one designed in a slightly different way. Below we review the top mouthguards for sale right now so you can decide which is most suitable for you.
SISU Mouth Guards – Aero 1.6mm Custom Fit Sports Mouthguard
Although this mouthguard falls into the boil and bite category it manufactures SISU claim it has several important design variations that set it apart from the competition. Designed to be up to 50% slimmer than the competition this mouthguard makes breathing and talking easier than a conventional mouthguard. SISU claim that if moulded correctly users can even comfortably drink water.
The mouthguard is delivered as a small flat section that is placed in hot water to make it pliable. Once the guard has the appropriate level of flexibility it is placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth before biting down for a couple of minutes to complete the process. The guard can be remoulded by returning to hot water if the desired fit is not achieved.
The shape and design of this mouthguard makes it a suitable option for a wide range of jaw and tooth sizes. Its manufacture SISU believe the mouthguard is better placed than its rivals to absorb and diffuse impact throughout the whole mouthguard reducing the risk of damage to the teeth.
This SISU Mouthguard is available in a range of sizes from junior through to adult and comes in a wide variety of block colours.
If your interested in purchasing the SISU Mouthguard you can find it for sale on Amazon;
Amazon US Link: SISU Aero 1.6mm Custom Fit Sports Mouthguard
Amazon UK Link: SISU Areo 1.6mm Custom Fit Sports Mouthguard
Shock Doctor Gel Max Mouthguard
Situating ourselves at the affordable end of the market we encounter the Shock Doctor Gel Max mouthguard. A company that specialise in a wide array of sporting protection and injury prevention equipment as well as recovery aids, Shock Doctor are a well know name in the mouthguard market.
The Gel Max retails in the region of $13 plus postage and has been a staple of sports mouthguards for some time. This is another boil and bite mouthguard that can be remoulded to ensure the desired fit is achieved.
Shock doctor claim the Gel Max is highly durable due to it silicone and triple layer design which offers extra protection to the teeth, mouth and tongue. When used correctly the Shock Doctor Gel Max can offer complete protection for the mouth during grappling.
The mouthguard has been designed with breathing channels to reduce the impact the guard may have on breathing. This mouth guard is available in a wide range of colours and in both junior and adult sizes.
Amazon links below;
Amazon US: Shock Doctor Gel Max
Amazon UK: Shock Doctor Gel Max
OPRO Gold Level Self-Fit Adult Mouthguard
Staying within the boil and bite market we move over to a product from a company with arguably a little less exposure than the first two mouthguards. The OPRO Gold claims to be ultra-impact resistant by spreading force across the mouthguard whilst offering protection to the teeth and gums.
According to OPRO they have landed themselves high-profile sponsorship arrangements becoming the official mouthguard of the UFC, USA Wrestling and the England and New Zealand Rugby teams.
The moulding design of the OPRO Gold Self-Fit differs from other boil and bite mouthguards as it is designed with ‘fins’ within the mouth piece that soften with heat and provide a greater grip on the teeth. The theory behind this design is the mouthguard can be better shaped around the teeth allowing the user to breath and speak easier than a standard boil and bite.
Once the boil and bit process has been complete the mouthguard functions as any other. Most of OPRO’s mouthguards come with the added benefit of anti-microbial case.
In the context of this list the OPRO Gold is not as tried and tested as some of the other options but with a creative take on the boil and bite design it could be the mouthguard of the future.
Amazon USA Link: OPRO Gold
Amazon UK Link: OPRO Gold
Venum Predator Mouthguard
A well-established brand within the BJJ and MMA community Venum have been making high quality martial arts equipment for many years, so it comes as no surprise they make a mouthguard. The Predator is the replacement for the slightly less expensive Challenger mouthguard which is still available to purchase today.
This is another boil and bite mouth guard with the moulding process being broadly in line with the other options on this page. The Predator has a dual core which is surrounded by a dense rubber frame, according to Venum this design results in better shock absorption in comparison to a regular mouthguard.
The Predator comes in a variety of different colours ranging from the simple to the extravagant, so there should be a mouthguard for everyone’s style. The company have included there branding in the design which explains the fang like look of the mouthguard.
Prices can fluctuate but the Predator is usually situated in the middle of the boil and bite market. Buying a product from Venum you can expect them to have put there years of knowledge into its design. You can be sure you are purchasing from a brand that is respected by many in the martial arts world.
US Amazon Link: Venum Predator
UK Amazon Link: Venum Predator
It is common for children’s mouthguards to be flavoured to encourage them to keep the mouthguard in and overcome a desire not to wear one. This trend has slipped over the adult market where it is now possible to purchase flavoured mouthguards as well.
Although not a prevalent as children’s mouthguards major brands such as Shock Doctor and Nike have entered the market with there very own flavoured offering for adults.
Amazon US: Nike Black Chery Mouthguard
Amazon UK: Shock Doctor Flavour Fussion