Should You Wear A Mouthguard For BJJ?

November 12, 2021

Wearing a mouthguard for BJJ can be a pain, quite literally. Those cheap plastic mouthguards from the local pharmacy are great if you need one in a hurry, but horrible if you like your gums.

You should wear a mouthguard for BJJ to protect your teeth, lips, gums, and inner cheeks from damage. However, if you are only drilling techniques, a mouthguard is not necessary.

But what if there was a way to have the protection of a mouthguard without affecting your breathing or causing you pain and discomfort? I’ve got just the option for you below!

Should You Wear A Mouthguard For BJJ?

Should You Wear A Mouthguard For BJJ

Wearing a mouthguard during BJJ comes down to personal preference. Some practitioners don’t like to wear a mouthguard because they feel it restricts their breathing or is uncomfortable. Cheap mouthguards can also cut your gums.

But for those who want to take every precaution to protect their pearly whites, then wearing a mouthguard is a good idea. The Cleveland Clinic lists exactly why wearing one for athletic activities can help you:

  • Protect your teeth from being chipped or losing one altogether,
  • Protect your teeth from nerve damage,
  • Protect your lips, gums, tongue, and inner cheeks from cuts which we’ve all experienced when someone isn’t under your chin.

So, if having an intact smile is important to you, then wearing a mouthguard is a good choice. If you’re ready to get that new gold filling, then you don’t need to wear a mouthguard. Just be prepared for an expensive dentist appointment.

When I first started BJJ, I didn’t wear a mouthguard. I took a few knocks had a few cuts in my mouth but nothing serious. I had bad experiences with mouthguards in the past from previous contact sports. Boil and bite mouthguards from the pharmacy were too long and made it feel like I was going to vomit.

Not to mention some were so thick it made it hard to breathe. And they would dig into my gums causing more pain than protection. It wasn’t until a few years ago I had a custom-fitted mouthguard made by the dentist. This was a game-changer!

If you’re training BJJ often and will continue to for the foreseeable future, then I guarantee you that a custom-fitted mouthguard will be the best investment you ever make. Yes. Even better than the tenth new Gi that you don’t need.

It cost me a few hundred dollars but has lasted me years. It is so comfortable that it doesn’t even feel like I’m wearing a mouthguard. Breathing is easy and I can even speak clearly with it in my mouth. This means I don’t need to take it out to say “oss” before a round.

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Should You Train With A Mouthguard?

Whether you train BJJ with a mouthguard or not will come down to the class and session you’re having. If you are rolling or positional sparring, I would advise wearing your mouthguard. If you are only drilling, then you don’t need to wear it as you won’t have any surprises coming your way (or a much lower chance of them!).

What I’ve seen most BJJ practitioners do is do the first half of class without their mouthguards when they are drilling and then put their mouthguard in when they start positional sparring or rolling. When you have a custom-fitted mouthguard, you’ll find you can wear it all class without any discomfort.

Can You Wear A Mouthguard With Braces?

Can You Wear A Mouthguard With Braces

Mouthguards are crucial for those who have braces. Having braces and training BJJ without a mouthguard is an easy way to cut your lips and potentially damage the braces. But you can’t wear any old boil and bite mouthguard off the shelf.

Get a custom-fitted mouthguard that will be comfortable and fit snug around your teeth and braces for maximum protection.

Is It Bad To Wear A Mouthguard?

It is not bad to wear a mouthguard. In some cases, it may be bad to wear a cheap mouthguard as they can cause pain and discomfort. Getting a custom-fitted mouthguard will solve all of these problems like it did mine.

Do Mouthguards Help In A Fight?

Mouthguards do not offer any benefit during a fight. Their sole purpose is to protect your teeth, gums, tongue, and lips. You can’t bite down on a mouthguard to last longer while being choked or while trying to escape a submission.

Nor can you expect a mouthguard to reduce the pain your feel if someone is being sneaky and running their forearm across your face so they can get under your neck.

How To Look After Your Mouthguard

Should You Train With A Mouthguard

If you get a custom-fitted mouthguard, you want it to last a long time. Especially because they are several hundred dollars more expensive than a boil and bite. So here are some tips:

  • Don’t leave it in direct sunlight or hot water. That can deform your mouthguard which you spent so much time getting fitted.
  • Get a mouthguard case. Most dentists should give you your newly fitted mouthguard in a hard plastic case with vents. This will make sure the inside has a flow of air so it doesn’t gather mould.
  • Rinse your mouthguard under cold water after each use. You won’t want to leave saliva in your mouthguard to dry.

Summary

Having all your teeth is a pretty good reason why you should wear a mouthguard for BJJ. However, it is a personal preference with the vast majority of people I’ve trained with no wearing one. The overall risk of losing teeth is low but the piece of mind when wearing a mouthguard is worth it.

About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


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