What’s the most important piece of equipment you need on fight night? No, it’s not your jockstrap, although if you’re looking to have kids you may think it is. Think again. It’s your mouth piece, the last thing you think of and put on before the start of the fight. I have forgotten mine a few times and had to buy a cheap $2 mouth piece. I could have been knocked out. Not smart considering all the good a mouth piece does for a boxer.
There are three main types of mouth pieces. The cheap ones you get at any old sporting goods store, the expensive mouth pieces which get boiled so they fit better, and the mouth guards you get made up at a dentist.
You may think that a more expensive mouth piece is out of the question or just not worth the money. Well, each type of guard increases your protection and may even have performance enhancements not found in the cheaper guards.
The regular run of the mill mouth guards will mainly do one thing, keep your teeth from falling out. So if all you’re looking for is tooth protection save your money and go cheap. In the long run you’re limiting air flow. Also, your teeth will not be in optimal position to save that glass jaw of yours.
Next, we have the middle grade mouth guards that everyone usually buys. They cost $15-$150 and may come with some form of ventilation which will increase your air flow. These guards, like I stated before, are usually more of a custom fit. You boil them and then have them contoured to your mouth.
Some have kits that allow you to send impressions of your teeth to a company to have a special guard made up. This is better and may even save you from a few upper cuts or hooks to the jaw.
Lastly, and possibly the state of the art at the moment, is the ultra guards that are out there. These guards are usually $750 and up. You say crazy? Not really. What’s not getting knocked out worth to you? Or how about being able to throw full force punches well into the 12th round?
OK, so you’re not looking to go into the 12th round. Maybe you’re hoping your opponent is wearing a cheap mouth guard that only protects his teeth so you can knock him out. You still never know.
These high end ultra mouth guards take a lot into consideration. We can start with your bite. The dentist will usually relax the jaw and neck muscles using electrical stimulus, massage, acupuncture, or chiropractic. This will allow for the best possible impression.
Just think, if your muscles are tight the impression will be off and you will have a guard made from an unbalance mouth. Clench your teeth, now feel the muscles on the side of your head and jaw. Do you feel the tightness? While it may be secure it is also very fragile and uneven.
The next important part in fitting the mouth guard is your jaw's natural alignment. A good guard should be fitted based on the center point of your bite. Using a computer an image is generated of your jaw as you move the jaw up and down, left to right, and in and out.
The most comfortable position allowing for the most relaxation of your facial muscles is what you need to look for. Everyone has a comfort zones with a space between your upper and lower jaw which keeps you confident.
Finally, and this is key, is the jaws final resting position. A normal bite has the lower jaw slightly behind the upper jaw. This is optimal for eating and speaking, but not for fighting. This jaw position, when clenched, has too much pressure on the disc of the jaw. That’s the part of the jaw with the nerves which control pain.