MMA is a tough sport with a lot of skin to skin contact. It is not uncommon to see blood in the octagon during prizefights. This makes one wonder whether MMA fighters lose teeth during their bouts.
MMA fighters don’t usually lose teeth because they are required to wear mouthguards that protect their teeth from the impact of jabs, punches, kicks, and elbows. However, there have been instances of fighters losing teeth and mouthguards not working as well as one would hope.
In this article, we will cover what a mouthguard is, how fighters protected their teeth before mouthguards were invented, and some of the other reasons why fighters lose their teeth during bouts. You will also learn about the best practices of buying a mouthguard and how to make sure your teeth are safe during your fights.
What Is a Mouthguard?
As you start to learn more about MMA, you may hear the term mouthguard thrown around. This can make you curious as to what this contraption is. As the name suggests, the mouthguard protects the mouth. But more specifically, it is a shock-absorber that retains a solid shape that goes around the curvature of one’s upper teeth. As a result, a strike to one’s face does not directly hit the upper teeth and is taken by the mouthguard.
There are three different types of mouthguards on the market.
These mouthguards are generic and are made to fit a general size. Buying these without knowing one’sone’s size is risky for MMA fighters because a guard needs to be fit right for it to be effective at protecting one’s teeth from impact.
These guards are made of thermo-polymer or EVA depending on the variety one invests in. The guard is boiled and becomes soft and malleable as a result. It is applied to the mouth and is shaped with a finger on the exterior of the teeth, and the interior is molded by pressure from one’s tongue.
The fighter will also bite to further secure the guard. Since the material hardens at room temperature, the guard solidifies and becomes a custom fit for the fighter’s dental structure.
Professional MMA fighters who have a camp helping them prepare often resort to having a dentist take a mold of their dental arrangement and mouth size and have customized mouthguards produced to help protect their teeth without having to awkwardly boil or head mouthguards in the locker room.
Why Do Fighters Lose Teeth Despite Having Mouthguards?
Before one learns about mouthguards, he or she may wonder why fighters don’t lose more of their teeth. But upon learning about mouthguard, the opposite question arises, why do fighters lose any teeth? Fighters lose teeth because mouthguards don’t protect lower teeth as much. Even with great headgear in training, without a good mouth piece, you can lose teeth.
Mouthguards cover the upper teeth, and the face structure keeps direct hits from isolating the lower row of teeth. However, in intense fights, it is possible for a fighter to have their mouth open while receiving a strike on the chin. Such contact can result in a tooth coming off.
There is also another reason why fighters may lose their teeth: bad mouthguards. Yes, some fighters may make an unfortunate buying choice that ends up costing them dearly in a fight. So make sure you purchase a quality mouthguard before hopping into the octagon. We have curated a list of the best mouthguards for MMA.
👇 Compilation of mouthpiece and teeth knockouts! 👇
Best Practices for Purchasing a Mouthguard
Just like a perfectly fitted MMA glove, you’ll want a great fitted mouth guard. If you have decided to buy a mouth guard for your teeth, follow these precautions and tips to make sure you make a quality purchase.
Do Not Buy What Hasn’t Been Reviewed
Because it takes a battle to test a mouthguard, sellers can get away with pushing sub-par products and fighters not realizing the low quality till it is too late and the damage is done. Usually, when this happens, the fighter will leave a negative review online. IF a mouthguard doesn’t have reviews online, you risk being the first negative reviewer. Avoid buying those specific items.
Check Both the Most Positive and the Most Negative Reviews
Amazon gives you the unique advantage of accessing the positive and the negative experiences of other buyers. Look at reviews left by verified buyers in both positive as well as critical categories. You will learn about the pros and cons of the specific mouthguard upon doing so.
Invest in Brands Endorsed by Stars
If Connor McGregor or Michael Bisping back a mouthguard, you know they have their reputation on the line and have at least done the due diligence required to ensure quality and safety. While it is not guaranteed that athletes will only back brands they use, you know that if a reliable name is attached to the product, there is a sense of security and trust associated with the product.
Best Practices to Avoid Losing Teeth
Since athletes with mouth guards have lost the odd tooth, you may want to know how to bring the probability of losing your teeth even lower. Follow these precautions to make sure you do not become a cautionary tale.
Don’t Keep Your Mouth Open
As the bout gets drawn out and prolonged, you may feel exhausted and in need of more oxygen. Breathing with your mouth open is an instinctual behavior in such a position, but if you do so while in the striking distance of your opponent, you compromise your lower jaw.
Not only can a strike towards your chin lead to loose teeth, but you could come out of the bout with a fractured jaw. To avoid this, keep your mouth clenched at all times with your low teeth firmly biting into the mouthguard above at all times.
Make Sure to Keep the Mouthguard On
It is likely that your mouthguard might be removed in between rounds, but if that happens, you have to make sure it is put back in. Taking the mouthguard off between bouts is one of the major causes of fighters losing teeth during their MMA fights.
Don’t Get Grounded
If you are tackled to the ground, you are in a disadvantageous position, but if your opponent is standing over you while you are on the ground, you are in a much worse position. While MMA rules have morphed to make kicks to the head illegal, there are countries like Russia and Japan, where it is perfectly legal to kick an opponent’s head like a football.
It is always possible, in an amateur bout, that your opponent does not know the extent to which combat is allowed while you’re downed.
Account for their possible ignorance and don’t get grounded lest you receive an illegal kick. A mouthguard does little against such direct kicks, and the damage is dealt not just to the teeth but the entire skull.
What Did Fighters Use Before Mouthguards?
Combat sports, specifically boxing, have a long history that predates the invention of mouthguards by decades. This makes one wonder how professionals protected their teeth back in the day.
It is often asserted that fighters bit on cotton or softer rags during their fights. The cotton would not give as much protection but would give the fighters an opportunity to keep their jaws clenched, which helps protect teeth from getting isolated and taking the full impact of a punch or a kick.
Final Thoughts – Do MMA Fighters Lose Teeth?
Mixed Martial Arts involve strikes to the face, and without a gum shield or a customized mouthguard, you are likely to lose your teeth. Even with an MMA mouthguard on, it is highly recommended to keep your teeth clenched, not to breathe with your mouth open, and not get grounded easily during your bout.
- USA Today: UFC Fighter Anthony Smith Handed His Teeth to the Ref During Brutal Fight Against Glover Teixeira
- Web MD: Dental Health Mouth Guards
- Mixed Martial Arts: 5 UFC Fighters Who Got Their Teeth Knocked Out
- Scrap Digest: 10 Times MMA Fighters Got Their Teeth Knocked Out
- Featured Image: “Bloody face after MMA fight” by MartialArtsNomad.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0