To say Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a contact sport is like saying a Bugatti Veyron is expensive. BJJ is one of the ultimate contacts sports featuring long, intense grappling sessions that put a person’s physical mettle to the test. Unfortunately, as in all contact sports, injuries are fairly common in BJJ. That includes dental injuries. Head to mouth, shoulder to mouth, elbow to mouth and even inadvertent knuckle to mouth contact can cause a tooth to become traumatically displaced (avulsed) or knocked clear from its socket. As such, no BJJ practitioner with an ounce of common sense is going to take to the floor without a high quality mouthguard protecting their pearly whites. With scores of different mouthguards out there though, it can be difficult to determine which is the best BJJ mouthguard for you. To make things easier I’ve brought together a selection of mouthguards I feel are up to the task.
Everything You Need to Know About the Jiu Jitsu Mouthguard
Let’s get something out of the way right off the top. Mouthguards cannot prevent every type of traumatic head injury. What they can do is:
Prevent your upper and lower teeth from slamming into each other during sudden contact.
Prevent teeth from breaking or chipping by diffusing and absorbing shocks.
Prevent most lateral movement of the teeth (known as “luxation”) caused by impacts.
Prevent your teeth from gashing the inside of your cheek as a result of severe impact.
What a mouthpiece cannot do is prevent concussions or prevent you from possibly being knocked out if your head makes sudden violent contact with the knee, elbow or head of your opponent. Nor can it prevent the possibility of a broken jaw from the same kinds of contact.
Which is Better? A Single or Double-Sided Mouthguard?
While common sense might suggest that a double-sided mouthpiece would be best for BJJ the fact is most athletes wear mouthguards only on their top teeth. There are a few reasons for this:
First, a double-sided mouthguard is difficult to breathe through.
Second, you can forget about getting a drink of water if you’re wearing a double-sided Jiu Jitsu Mouthguard.
Third, most damage to lower teeth is caused by contact with upper teeth. So by taking them out of the equation you drastically reduce the need for a lower mouthguard as well.
Personally, I have never slipped on a gi without also popping in a mouthguard and after years of grappling I still have all my teeth to show for it. If you are new to this martial art the best thing to do is to build good habits from the start. And one of the best habits you can get into is wearing a mouthguard.
Features to Look for in the Best BJJ Mouthguard
Now that we have a better idea what Jiu Jitsu and MMA mouthguards can and can’t do let’s go through some of the things you want to look for in a Jiu Jitsu mouthpiece.
The 3 Types of Mouthguards:
Boil and bite – These are by far the most common form of mouthguards in use today. After unpacking your new boil and bite you drop it into some boiling water for a few minutes. Then, once it cools a bit, pop it in your mouth and bite down. This creates an indelible impression on the material that hardens into a perfect mold of your teeth.
Stock – With stock mouthguards simply put them in your mouth and hope they work. They’re not form fitted in any way to your particular dental profile. They’re essentially just pieces of plastic intended to (hopefully) prevent something bad from happening. While they’re better than nothing they’re not much better than nothing.
Custom-fitted – Many people say that with the advent of boil-and-bite mouthguards the custom-fitted mouthpiece you would get from a dentist is unnecessary. Others suggest that this type of mouthguard provides a higher level of protection. I tend to agree that they’re a largely unnecessary luxury. But it’s up to you.
Criteria for Choosing a BJJ Mouthguard
Whether you’re looking for a boil and bite, a custom mouthpiece or a stock Jiu Jitsu mouthguard the criteria for getting one that works will largely come down to the same 3 features:
The fit – Even if you’re wearing a stock mouthguard it should be fairly comfortable and not interfere with breathing or swallowing. It also shouldn’t flop around in your mouth, pinch your teeth inward or push them outward from the center. A poorly fitted mouthguard can create as many problems as it solves.
Level of Protection – As a general rule the thicker the mouthguard the better. Especially if you are buying a mouthpiece for your young son or daughter. You’ll want to try and strike a balance in this regard however. Because a mouthguard that’s too thick will cause breathing and swallowing difficulties. And it is crucial to be able to breathe properly while grappling.
Aesthetics – Admittedly this isn’t such a big deal for many practitioners. At the same time however, there’s no reason why your mouthpiece needs to look like a piece of gum that was peeled off a truck tire. There are a lot of great looking Jiu Jitsu and MMA mouthguards on the market today. With a lot that are designed specifically to appeal to a younger audience. So take your time and make sure you pick one that appeals to you.
How do You Clean a Mouthpiece?
A dirty mouthguard can present serious hygiene problems so you’ll want to make sure you clean it regularly. Fortunately, cleaning a Jiu Jitsu mouthguard isn’t exactly rocket science and doesn’t require any special soaps or techniques. Just…
Rinse it with warm water.
Brush it all over with your toothbrush (without toothpaste).
Rinse it again.
Set it down and let it dry completely.
Then put it back in the case.
Make sure you do this after every use to ensure you’re always putting a hygienic appliance in your mouth.
Review: Venom has been producing high-quality products for MMA and BJJ for some time. If you practice for long enough you’ll hear their name a lot if you haven’t already. The Challenger is one of their best all-around mouthguards. It’s designed to fit just about anyone, although it may be a tad large for some smaller individuals. This is a classic “boil and bite” and the Nexgel frame does a great job defining the contours of your teeth and holding that shape over time. And it should last a good long time.
This is a single piece mouthguard but you shouldn’t let that deter you. I found that it provides a lot of protection for lower teeth as well. Completely negating possible damage that can occur when your jaw endures an upward strike. It’s basically comfortable in the mouth and does a good job keeping the air passage open at all times. Which is essential for being able to muster strength and for keeping your head about you when things get gnarly. The protective case it comes with is one of the better ones and the price won’t create sticker shock. At the end of the day I wouldn’t hesitate to wear this mouthguard in any type of practice or competition.
Robust protection for lower teeth.
Nexgel frame conforms perfectly to your upper teeth.
Not bulky. Will not restrict your breathing.
Includes a durable carrying case.
Although versatile it may not be suitable for smaller practitioners.
Review: SISU is known for their commitment to providing maximum protection with minimum intrusion into your mouth cavity. Their company motto is “more protection, less mouthguard”. And they do an admirable job living up to that. Like most of the Jiu Jitsu and MMA mouthguards these days the Aero 1.6 is a boil and bite mouthpiece. When I first unboxed the Aero 1.6 I was a little concerned that there just wasn’t enough bulk to create a nice snug fit when it came time to “bite”. But my concern was misplaced. After the gel set the mouthguard slipped into place like it was custom built for my teeth.
If you’re the type of practitioner who wants their mouthguard to stay out of your way it is likely that you’ll take a shine to the Aero. The marketing states that it will allow you to talk, breathe and drink with the guard in place. But while that’s technically true I wouldn’t recommend eating with one of these suckers in your mouth. Unless you like the feeling of decomposing food stuck in the crevices of your mouthguard. Other than that however, I found this to be one of the more comfortable and effective mouthguards I tested.
SISU Diffusix Technology distributes impact forces.
Not as bulky as some other boil and bite mouthpieces.
The perforations prevent forces from building up behind the mouthpiece.
SISU will cover your dental bills if you break a tooth wearing this!
Talking while wearing it isn’t as easy as they claim.
Review: The OPRO Power-Fit Mouthguard is marketed as serious dental protection for all those involved in contact sports. And I have to say it does a better than average job living up to its own hype. This is a boil and bite style mouthguard with a bulkier than average profile and an unconventional 2-piece construction designed to produce an optimal fit. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it covers both your upper and lower teeth. It’s not that kind of 2-piece. Instead, it comes with a “power cage” that envelops the mouthguard. As a result, when you put the guard into your mouth after boiling it you get a custom fit both on the inside (with your teeth) and on the outside (with the contour of your gums).
Now some people will say that’s pretty unnecessary and opt for something cheaper and less techy. But if you’ve ever had a mouthguard slip off your gums during a grappling session you know how unpleasant that can be. It can also spell the end of the match if the mouthpiece obstructs your airway. So for those who want to make sure their mouthguard stays on duty no matter the level of duress the Power-Fit may be just what you’re looking for.
With more than 40 colors you’re going to find one you like.
The boil and bite process works like a charm to produce a custom fit.
It is a robust mouthguard that’s good for folks that want extra protection.
The “Power Cage” can be a mixed blessing. Don’t expect too much from it.
Review: Shock Doctor is another brand you’ll hear a lot about if you’re around BJJ or MMA for a while. And for good reason. They make, what I consider to be, some of the best dental protective devices on the market. The Max Airflow is a good example. This is a traditional 2-piece mouthguard. With coverage for both your upper and lower teeth. That makes it a good choice for younger practitioners whose parents don’t want them to start their adult lives with a hole in their smile.
The “Max Airflow” of the name refers to the large, unwavering vent in the lip guard that allows you to suck all the air you need to stay in the game. That channel is some 10% larger than most other airways in similar mouthguards. Another thing that makes this a good choice for youngsters is that it is compatible with braces. It is also latex, BPA and phthalate free, comes in a variety of colors and patterns and it meets all national and state specs for mouthguards for high school athletes. Just as a bit of icing on the cake the company provides a $10,000 guarantee. If you or your child suffer a dental injury while wearing it they’ll cover up to $10,000 of the dental bill.
It’s remarkably light for such an imposing mouthpiece.
The central air channel enables breathing even under stress.
Should fit comfortably over most brace setups.
The overwrought design is going to be too much for smaller mouths.
These type of lip guards can sometimes pinch the lips when hit directly.
Review: With the Redline Custom Molded Mouthguard I return to the land of the single-piece, boil and bite mouthguards. This is marketed as a one-size-fits-all mouthpiece and I’m happy to say it’s one of the few to make that claim that actually live up to it. The Redline mouthguard is fashioned from latex free, PVC free and BPA free material. It conforms without a fight to the contours of your teeth and retains its shape nicely over time. It’s available in 8 different color schemes and comes with an attractive, high impact carrying case.
Once in place I found this mouthpiece to be comfortable and unobtrusive. It doesn’t push out on the cheeks the way some mouthguards can and doesn’t obstruct the air passage. It absorbs impacts effectively without popping off and provides more than adequate collision protection for the bottom teeth. It comes with a nifty little carabiner so you can clip it just about anywhere and features a 100% money back, satisfaction guarantee. Not that you’re likely to use it. But it’s nice that it’s there.
Available in an impressive array of colors.
Easily adjusted to fit my dental layout.
Doesn’t interfere with breathing no matter how heavy the action.
Does a good job protecting bottom teeth from upper cuts.
Review: While Battle Fangs advertise this as a “football” mouthguard it will serve BJJ practitioners just fine. What I particularly like about this mouthpiece is that you can reboil and re-bite it if things didn’t go perfectly the first time around. This is a major plus and maybe worth the price of admission all by itself. Since not everyone is going to hit a home run with their first swing. But the Battle Fangs mouthguard is not a one trick pony. It’s also comfortable, won’t block your airway and comes 2 to a package.
The company does the right thing and provides separate youth and adult mouthguards. I find it kind of annoying when some companies try to market adult mouthguards to kids that are clearly too big. Battle Fangs has decided to take the high road and provide the two different sizes. So kudos to them for that. The company also provides the best dental guarantee that I’m aware of. If you or your child suffers dental damage while wearing their Battle Fangs mouthpiece they’ll cover up to $35,000 of the dentist’s bill. That’s the kind of guarantee you hope you never have to use. But it can provide a lot of peace of mind knowing it is there.
The kids are going to love the battle fangs motif.
The ability to reboil and remold is a big plus.
The $35,000 dental warranty is the most generous I’ve come across.
This mouthpiece can be worn with or without braces.
The bottom barricade seems like kind of an afterthought.
Review: The final item on my list of best Jiu Jitsu mouthguards is this one by Shock Doctor designed specifically for people with braces. That doesn’t just mean teenagers. Although it certainly can. But basically any adult sized person fitted with dental appliances. This is a standard 2-piece mouthguard that’s not boil and bite, but instead claims to provide an instant fit. Since I don’t wear braces myself I had to seek out someone who did and ask them to take it for a spin. They reported that it fit well right out of the box. Although it wasn’t quite the equal of the boil and bite mouthguards they had used previously. I suppose that’s to be expected.
Part of the reason the fit isn’t tight as a glove is that the mouthguard is designed to accommodate your teeth as they shift. If you wore braces or know someone who has you know that your teeth are slowly but constantly being moved around until they finally reach the preferred alignment. So this Shock Doctor mouthguard attempts to accommodate that movement. Beyond that it is free of BPA, latex and phthalate, provides ample protection against shocks from every direction and comes with a $10,000 dental warranty.
Accommodates the movement of your teeth created by braces.
Provides good to excellent protection of both upper and lower teeth.
Comes with a $10,000 dental damage guarantee.
To accommodate your braces it is a little looser than some other mouthguards.
I have been wearing mouthguards for years and can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get in the habit early of wearing one. That said, the mouthguards listed above are all first rate products that more or less live up to their marketing hype.
For my money however, I have to go with the Redline Sportswear Custom Molded Mouthguard as being the best BJJ mouthpiece on the market today. Again, this is just my opinion and you may feel otherwise. But the Redline mouthguard hit all the beats I laid out at the beginning of this article regarding what I want to see in a quality mouthguard. I found it comfortable, easy to pop in and out, it stays completely clear of my breathing passage and it doesn’t exert any unusual forces either inward or outward on my gums.
In addition to all that it’s affordable, durable, handsome and comes with an effective carrying case with its own carabiner so you can sling it anywhere. And one more thing; it is also one of the few mouthpieces that can realistically be used by both adults and adolescents. Add all that up and you get, what is in my opinion, the best BJJ mouthguard on the market today.