Protect Your Smile and Enhance Your Performance: The Importance of Wearing a Mouthguard for Combat Sports

Suppose you have participated in a high-impact sport or a mixed martial arts (MMA) activity like Jiu-Jitsu. In that case, you know the essential protective gear you need. A significant piece among these is a mouthguard. But have you ever considered why it's necessary or which one is best for you? Let's delve deeper into this. 

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Your safety should always be your priority when participating in any sport, particularly in contact sports like Jiu-Jitsu, where the risk of injury is high. This priority is why I’m advocating using a mouthguard and, in particular, sharing why I’ve chosen to use one myself.

  • Understanding the importance of wearing a mouthguard in sports.
  • Why Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, in particular, should consider using a mouthguard.
  • Choosing the right mouthguard: A comparison of the Shockdoctor Nano-Double and Trash Talker mouthguards.
  • My personal choice: Why I picked the Trash Talker mouthguard.

The goal is simple. We wish to arm you with all the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about incorporating a mouthguard into your sports routine. 

But why is a mouthguard so crucial? The answer hinges upon protection, of course, but also extends into aspects of communication – a fundamental pillar in any group sport, particularly in my personal experience with Jiu Jitsu.

In Jiu Jitsu, 45% of injuries are to the head and neck area

The Benefits of a Mouthguard 

Using a mouthguard protects your teeth, gums, and jaw during contact sports. The protection provided isn’t just for those unplanned, teeth-jarring accidents you coincidentally stumble upon while on the field. A mouthguard can effectively buffer the impact of a blow, discouraging the possibility of broken teeth, cuts to the lip and tongue, and jaw fractures. 

Health is the first wealth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

But it’s not all about the physical fallout; your brain also has a stake in this. Trauma from a brutal hit can radiate through your skull, potentiating injury to your brain. Wearing a mouthguard can reduce the odds of concussion, ensuring you can head back to the gym or ring again.

The Importance of Protecting Your Teeth

Taking the cue in context from a sport like Jiu Jitsu, we often overlook the necessity of a good mouthguard until we confront a mishap. It’s not just about preserving your pristine smile. Indeed, a cracked tooth or a bleeding gum is a sight nobody yearns for. But beyond the superficial, there’s far more at stake. 

Your teeth are as much a functional unit as they are aesthetic. Losing one to an unexpected blow can interfere with oral functions like eating and speech. Moreover, a damaged tooth can be an entryway for infections that could complicate your overall health. Therefore, having a firm barrier, in the form of a mouthguard, between the hazardous blows and your teeth can diminish the risk of such unfortunate incidents.

Mouthguards are 90% effective in preventing oral injuries in sports

Reducing the Risk of Concussions

Concussions are another risk that mouthguards help to reduce within the sports field. You might think of a mouthguard as a protective tool for the teeth, but its importance stretches far beyond that, particularly in Jiu Jitsu. 

Professional fighters and experts in the field have discovered that a properly fitted mouthguard can work as a shock absorber. This means that in the event of a strike to the jaw, the force is distributed more evenly, thus reducing the chance of a concussion. This is where a mouthguard can be a real game-changer, especially in aggressive contact sports like Jiu Jitsu. 

Several studies have affirmed these findings. Mouthguards have been observed to reduce the number and severity of concussions when worn correctly.

Selecting a mouthguard that provides maximum protection, fits comfortably, and allows open communication becomes fundamental. 

An Overview of Mouthguard Technologies

Mouthguards have come a long way from the standard rubber models of the past. Today advances in design technology and materials have markedly improved their effectiveness. They’re custom-fitted for each user and made from durable, flexible materials that protect your teeth and gums while allowing free movement and easy communication. Some even utilise advanced technology to decrease the likelihood of serious injuries further. 

Considerations such as the type of material, its ability to absorb shock, and the specific design to cushion an impact all come into play to ensure maximum protection. Some manufacturers utilise gel liners for better fitting and comfort, while others use layered materials for ultimate shock absorption. The most advanced models use combinations of hard and soft materials and can even be moulded to your teeth for a snug yet comfortable fit. 

Significant strides have been made in reducing the bulk and discomfort of older models while maintaining or enhancing the protective aspects. This development has been a game-changer in contact sports like Jiu Jitsu, where mouthguards are indispensable.

Reviewing Top Contenders: Shockdoctor Nano-Double and Trash Talker mouthguards. 

Having surfed extensively through various brands and models, I zeroed in on two mouthguards that reached the top of my list for diverse reasons: the Shockdoctor Nano-Double and the Trash Talker. Here’s a quick comparison. 

FeaturesShockdoctor Nano-DoubleTrash Talker
ProtectionOffers dual-arch layer design for superior protectionProvides high-impact protection
ComfortFeels snug and doesn’t feel bulky – though does fill up your mouth!Light and compact in your mouth
CommunicationFeels snug and doesn’t feel bulky – though it does fill up your mouth!Enables speech and breathability

Fitting

Ensuring a proper fit is crucial when it comes to selecting your mouthguard. If a mouthguard doesn’t fit correctly, its purpose becomes redundant and won’t provide the protection you need. Therefore, the fitting process should be your top priority. It usually involves warming the mouthguard to make it mouldable, placing it in your mouth and biting down gently. This process allows the mouthguard to mould around your teeth and gums, providing a secure and comfortable fit. 

Both the Shockdoctor Nano-Double and the Trash Talker mouthguards offer user-friendly fitting processes. If you’re going for the Shockdoctor Nano-Double, be ready to create an impression of both the upper and lower teeth for comprehensive coverage. Meanwhile, the Trash Talker moulds to the upper teeth, permitting clear communication without sacrificing protection.

Fitting both models was a quick and painless process, though. I thought the Trash Talker had melted a little towards the back, looking at the mould, and then I realised I was missing one of my back teeth, which had folded over that spot!

My Choice

While the Shockdoctor Nano-Double offers immense protection and comfort, it must include clear communication. After wearing it for a bit, I quickly realised how much I would generally communicate during a roll. Part of the fun is the interaction with your partner. That’s where Trash Talker stood out magnificently. Not only did it tick the boxes for comfort and protection, but it also scored high on enabling speech. And that’s why it is now my go-to choice.