They were first designed and produced in London, specifically to prevent lip lacerations in boxing contests.
Today mouthguards are used in various sports, primarily to protect teeth and gums.
Here we’re going to examine using mouthguards for boxing and combat sports.
Why use a mouthguard?
For such a small and simple accessory, the mouthguard, also known as a gum shield, goes some way to protecting your mouth and jaw.
One of the most common uses of the mouthguard is to protect your teeth and gums. Our teeth are so fragile that even a very small impact can easily dislodge them. A standard mouthguard covers our upper teeth and gums. As our upper teeth naturally overlap our lower teeth, they also become protected.
In full-contact combat, the mouthguard is also effective in stopping mouth lacerations. Your teeth can easily cut the inside of your cheeks and lips if you have been struck, so the mouthguard acts as a cushion between them both.
Biting down on your gum shield strengthens your jaw and reduces jaw movement in contact. If your teeth are not clenched when being punched, your jaw will be very frail. Even in light sparring or pad work its good practice to bite down when throwing combinations in attack or defence.
What are the different types of mouthguard?
The most effective mouth guards are moulded to the form of the user’s teeth. Here are the most popular options –
Boil and Bite
These are the most commonly used mouth guards on the market. They’re affordable and effective. Boil and Bite gum shields are standard in size, so you’ll need to use scissors to cut away parts that feel uncomfortable or irritate your mouth. After this, you’ll need to place the gum shield in boiling hot water for 30-60 seconds depending on the model. Place it into your mouth and bite down, shaping the shield around your teeth.
Be sure to push the mouthguard up against your back teeth and around your gums. A well-applied gum shield should stay in place whilst your jaw is open, helping you breath more naturally.
Follow the instructions on each gumshield before boiling and biting, as the application can vary.
If you’re regularly practicing full contact boxing, getting a customised gumshield is more efficient against injury, as well as being super comfortable. Most dentists can construct a customised mouthguard, although you will pay more.
A double mouthguard protects both the top and bottom teeth. They’re very good for people who might need extra protection or have sensitive gums. The one negative to a double mouthguard is that they are restrictive to breathing due to its larger size in your mouth. If you are going to take part in full contact boxing, blows to the nose can make breathing difficult. If a mouthguard is restricting your only other airway, you will tire quickly and become easier to hit.
How often should I change my mouthguard?
It’s important to change your mouth guard once a year. This is to ensure that you always have the best protection.
Cleaning and storage
A simple rinse with hot water after each use is recommended to clean away bacteria. The mouthguard should then be dried and stored in its original box.