Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 8, 2021

I work with several MMA fighters and also have amateur boxers as clients. What I never realized, though, is that it was more common than I thought for some of them to have braces and still get in the ring.

As it turns out, there is a real risk if you get hit hard in the mouth when you’re fighting with braces.

But there are a few solutions a boxer or MMA fighter can choose to avoid some pretty nasty injuries to their teeth and jaw.

Just don’t assume that a standard mouth guard will do the trick.

Should You Fight With Braces?

teeth model with braces

Yes, fighting with braces is entirely possible, but you have to put in a bit of research and invest some more money in the mouth guard you choose.

While teenagers are the most common people to have braces, you’ll find many adults choosing to fix their teeth later in life.

And that doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite combat sport.

The main issue is that your standard mouthguards might not fit well enough.

More on this shortly.

And if it slips, then you could get some nasty lacerations inside your mouth.

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Best Ways To Protect Your Mouth

I spoke with a boxing coach, and he gave me some feedback based on his experience. It’s something he’s very strict about at his gym, no matter how old his boxers are.

1. Standard Mouthguard

person holding a mouthguard

A standard mouthguard is a perfect solution for most people as a way to protect their teeth from cracking and getting knocked out, but also to avoid cuts to the lips and inside of the mouth.

Anyone that has used mouthguards before knows that they need to fit snug against your teeth and ideally would be molded for your jaw and teeth alignment [1].

Advantages

The only one I could think of is that it’s the fastest and cheapest solution. But when you’ve spent thousands of dollars on braces, is it really a good idea to scrimp on mouth protection?

Let me show you the disadvantages.

Disadvantages

The first problem is that mouthguards have to fit snugly, and they shouldn’t move between your lip and teeth. But the braces on your teeth take up space as well, which you have to account for.

A standard mouth protector will simply not be able to give you a snug fit no matter how much you experiment with different shapes and sizes. 

The second issue I got from an orthodontist who pointed out that even if you find a mouthguard that seems to fit, now the force of a punch will travel through the device and directly onto small pressure points of each individual bracket.

2. Orthodontic Mouthguard

dentist holding a Orthodontic Mouthguard

An orthodontic mouthguard is the absolute must-have for any boxer and UFC fighter, and there are even some professional fighters who continue their careers with braces.

The key is that the mouthguard has to be molded around your braces to provide protection for your teeth, mouth, and orthodontics.

Let me show you why this is the only solution.

Advantages

First of all, a properly molded and fitted mouthguard will feel so much more comfortable than anything else you try. It won’t slip or cause pressure on your gums, which will allow you to focus more on the fights.

But the main advantage comes from the actual protection you gain, not the comfort.

When the guard is appropriately molded around your teeth, braces, and jawline, it reduces any chance of slipping out of place.

Mouthguards shouldn’t be able to move freely, not through your own movements and fighting style, nor a punch or kick to the face.

One thing you should notice is that you shouldn’t even be able to pull them off too easily with your hand.

Disadvantages

There’s no way to butter this up, but these types of mouthguards will cost a few hundred dollars.

Ideally, you would talk to your orthodontist when fitting the braces, as it might be possible to reduce the price by having them molded at the same time.

As someone whose parents spent over $4,000 on my braces, I can tell you the few hundred dollars could be a minor investment.

3. Headgear

man boxing with a headgear

Look, headgear is a great way to avoid damage and injury to your head, but they are no replacement for mouth guards.

Even the ones that offer protection to the front of the face and your cheekbones won’t stop a punch from connecting with your mouth.

You’ll never see boxers wearing headgear and no mouthguards, so don’t think this would be a good idea just because you wear braces.

“Mouthguards can also act as a barrier between teeth/braces and the cheeks, between the lips and tongue, thereby limiting the risk of soft tissue damage.” - YourDentistry.com.

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FAQs

Can You Box With Braces?

Yes, you can box with braces as long as you wear a suitable protective mouthguard. It should not only protect your teeth but also mold to avoid damage to the braces themselves. It’s never a good idea to avoid using a properly fitting guard.

Can You Use a Regular Mouthguard With Braces?

No, you shouldn’t use a regular mouthguard with braces. They are not designed to fully protect your teeth and braces at the same time. In many cases, they could do additional harm to your mouth and even crack your teeth.

Can You Do Martial Arts With Braces?

Yes, you can do martial arts with braces, but it requires a properly molded mouthguard. The guard should form to the shape of your jaw, teeth, and the individual brackets attached. It’s the only way to avoid damage and injury during fights.

Can You Box With Invisalign?

Yes, you can box with Invisalign, but it would be recommended to remove the aligners before you fit your mouthguard. As your teeth alignment will gradually change, it might also be a good idea to get a boil and bite guard to get a better fit [2].

Is Fighting With Braces A Good Idea?

It’s entirely safe to be fighting with braces, as long as you invest in the right types of protective gear. Too many athletes simply think that a large mouthguard will do the trick.

That can become a costly and painful mistake and one that you can easily avoid.

Put your mind at ease and talk to your orthodontist about getting a properly fitted and molded gum shield.

There is absolutely no reason for taking any risks.


References:

  1. https://www.makurasport.com/blog/the-right-fit-mouthguard
  2. https://www.shockdoctor.com/pages/gel-max-power-mouthguard-fitting-instructions

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