If you are a exponent of combat sports of any kind, chances are you’re familiar with protective equipment and the importance of its correct usage. The mouthguard is one of the most important pieces of protective equipment for full contact sports.
In this article, we will be looking at mouthguards and why you should seriously consider investing in one.
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Why Using a Mouthguard is Important
Traditionally, BJJ has always been a grappling sport and strikes i.e. kicks and punches are rarely if ever utilized by BJJ practitioners. A common misconception among some practitioners is that mouthguards can be ignored.
In some cases some practitioners have chosen to forgo the usage of mouthguards during competitive matches. If you think that they have no place in your locker, you may want to read further.
BJJ is a fighting style that allows a smaller guy to learn the skill to be able to take down a larger bigger guy it’s a tough sport that can damage your teeth if you don’t have the appropriate protection.
While you may not incorporate any form of striking during your sparring sessions, accidents do happen and things can get out of hand. Imagine rolling on the ground with a opponent and getting your head smashed on the floor.
This is why mouthguards should be in your locker, they protect your teeth and jaw from injury.
While it still does hurt mind you, getting dropped on your face with a mouthguard beats meeting the floor with your teeth any time.
Secondly, when you’re in the middle of a bout, you’re using all your strength and stamina to get an advantage over your opponent. Pushing your body beyond the limits of physical exertion and endurance can cause muscles to involuntarily contract.
On average, the human jaw is capable of clamping down with 1700 pounds of force which means that we have the ability to bite harder than a gorilla or chimpanzee.
Thus, suddenly clamping your jaws can mean that you may accidentally bite of your own tongue or shatter teeth. Ouch! This fact further highlights why it is important for you to have your own mouthguard.
Factors to Consider
By now, if you’ve made it this far, chances are you’d have understood the importance of wearing a mouthguard.
When shopping around for a mouthguard, the choices are endless and you’d naturally want the best mouthguard for Jiu Jitsu. But, before you buy the first mouthguard you spot, here are some factors that you should consider before making a decision.
Type of material
Given the fact that you’d be putting a mouthguard in your mouth (obviously), you’d want to take careful look at the materials used to make your mouthguard.
You would not want your mouthguard to be made of toxic materials nor do you want it to shatter under the strain. Experts agree that Polyolefin Elastomer offers the best of both worlds as it is flexible enough to be comfortable and tough enough to stand a beating.
Size and design
As you will be wearing your mouthguard for an extended period of time, chances are you’d want it to be as comfortable as possible.
Uncomfortable, poorly fitted ones are not only difficult to wear but they also offer less protection. Avoid stock mouthguards that come in free sizes but instead go for the boil and bite variety or the custom-molded variety (if you have the budget).
They will come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs. Where in the past most professional athletes had to contend with simple plastic varieties that were inflexible and extremely uncomfortable, we now have the freedom to choose from a variety of different types.
From basic stock varieties to elaborate custom-designed tailor made ones.
These are the most common types on the market. Made from plastic, they offer minimal levels of protection. They are designed to be as general as possible to match a wide variety of mouth sizes.
While you may be tempted with their affordable prices, keep in mind that they may be uncomfortable and only offer a modicum of protection.
Boil and bite mouthguards
While its name may put off some people, boil and bite guards are more comfortable when compared to a stock mouthguard and they can offer a bit more flexibility.
Along with this, they are lighter and tend to fit better which offers better protection and makes breathing slightly easier.
Boil and bite mouthguards are made from thermoplastic which means that boiling softens it and makes it easier to fit your mouth.
Custom-fit ones are often used by professionals as they offer the best fit and are the most comfortable to wear. Manufactured in a special lab, custom ones use a mould of your mouth to get the best possible fit.
While such guards, can be quite costly the comfort and protection that they offer makes them well worth the investment.
Keeping it Clean
The human mouth is a haven for bacteria and uncleaned mouthguards have a shorter lifespan and can be unhygienic to put into your mouth.
After each session, wash down your guard with cold water and toothpaste to kill any bacteria that may be there. A toothbrush can come in particularly handy for this.
Also, never keep your mouthguard out in the open as direct sunlight shortens its lifespan. Along with this, it should be kept away from dirty training clothing as this is great way for bacteria to fester. Finally, always keep it in a ventilated covered casing so you can keep it safe.
After all, you’re putting it into your mouth on a regular basis and a little basic hygiene can go a long way.
Mouthguards are an important piece of safety equipment for an full contact sport enthusiast. With the proper maintenance and usage, yours can keep your mouth and teeth safe for many years to come.