If your dream is to have a perfect set of straight pearly whites, you probably shouldn’t be a boxer or MMA fighter. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to protect your teeth while actively fighting — you just need a plan.
4 Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
Anytime you participate in a sport where the object is to punch the competitor across from you, there are going to be injuries. And, unfortunately, the mouth is one of the most sensitive areas of impact. From teeth and gums to lips and tongue, a single punch — or repetitive blows — can cause problems.
It’s up to you to make smart choices to protect your mouth and keep your teeth healthy. Here are some suggestions:
- Buy a Mouthguard
Fighting without a mouthguard is like riding on the interstate without a seatbelt. Is it possible to get where you’re going without crashing into another vehicle and flying through the windshield? Well, sure. But are you putting yourself at a greater risk of being injured by not wearing your seatbelt? Absolutely.
You might spar without a mouthguard on occasion and walk away with no issues, but you’re increasing the risk that something will go wrong. Buy a mouthguard and wear it every single time you put on your gloves or climb into the octagon.
- Don’t Cheap Out
A mouthguard is designed to be a shock absorber. It spreads out the impact of the force by redistributing it across a much larger area. This limits the damage to any specific area or point of contact and lowers the risk of injury. (The outer layer also prevents damage to your lips and cushions the impact that occurs when your upper jaw and lower jaw collide together, which can cause fractures.)
Having said that, not just any mouthguard will do. You’ll need a custom solution that’s fit to your teeth and designed for your specific sport. This is not something to cheap out on!
Boil and bite mouthguards are a nice entry-level option if you want something that’s fit to your mouth and bite. But if you need added protection, a custom mouthguard made from a mold of your teeth can provide an even tighter fit.
- Deal With Issues Right Away
Even with the best mouthguard — one that’s made specifically for your mouth and tailored to your individual needs — issues can arise. From cracked teeth to missing teeth, anyone who is in one of these sports long enough is going to have the occasional problem. Just make sure you don’t delay in getting treatment. Act immediately and you can limit the negative repercussions.
When it comes to dental implants for missing teeth, new technology makes these surgical procedures less invasive than ever before. If nothing else, you should consult with a periodontist to learn more about the process.
The same goes for chipped teeth, problems with your gums, split lips, and other related issues. Acting quickly can limit the damage and prevent a minor issue from becoming a major (and costly) problem.
- Be Smart
If you’re taking repeated blows to the face on a daily basis, even the best mouthguard can only do so much. Eventually, this force is going to impact your lips, gums, teeth, tongue, and even the bone structure of your jaw. It’s important that you take rest periods and minimize the impact you take.
If you’re a casual boxer or fighter (meaning you do it for fun, not professionally), you should change the way you practice to reduce the number of sessions where you’re taking physical blows to the head and mouth. Sparring sessions must be strategically designed in such a way that you aren’t putting yourself at risk. In other words, save the big blows for the competitions. All it takes is one punch to cause a problem, but reducing the quantity of hits you take will benefit you over the long haul.
Prioritize Your Health
Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai…whatever your interest is, it’s imperative that you prioritize your health. Repetitive punches and forceful blows eventually have an impact on your teeth and oral health. By acting now to protect your mouth from harm, you can enjoy the sport you love without compromising in other areas.