Why I Wear a Mouth Guard
Safety should be a top priority at any Jiu-Jitsu academy. This means having safe training partners, a clean training environment, and protective gear when necessary. A mouth guard is one of the most common pieces of protective gear in any sport. Jiu-Jitsu students generally wear mouth guards as a personal preference. Discomfort and restriction of breathing are usually the primary reasons students choose to go without one. I personally choose to always wear one. Here’s why.
Jiu-Jitsu is grappling art so strikes to the jaw don’t occur on a regular basis. Accidents do happen and a mouth guard can help prevent injury to the teeth, lips, and gums. In addition, it can help absorb some of the impact when hit with an open jaw.
As a teenager, I remember my parents spent thousands of dollars on braces. I also remember the years of pain I endured because of those braces. As a result, I’ve become very protective of my teeth. A mouth guard can be an inexpensive insurance plan to prevent unwanted visits to the dentist.
Side Note: There are companies that make mouth guards specifically designed for people who wear braces. Though they may be higher in price they can alleviate some of the discomfort when training with braces in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Breathing is an important aspect of any martial art. Proper breathing techniques can provide you with an edge over your opponent. As mentioned earlier, many people choose not to wear mouth guards because it restricts breathing. I found this problem could be corrected by learning proper breathing techniques.
I’ve always found it more beneficial to breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. There is evidence to support that nose breathing can help circulate blood better and help control breathing. I’ve found that wearing a mouth guard has helped me in learning proper breathing technique.
Check out this video of Rickson Gracie demonstrating some incredible breathing techniques.
#3 Pushing it
Restricting breathing is not necessary a bad thing. Many athletes train at higher altitudes and/or with restrictive breathing masks for the purpose of improving cardiovascular performance. There is evidence to support that wearing a mouth guard can have similar benefits to recovery time.
Check out this interesting article explaining how wearing a mouth guard can improve performance.
Finally, there are times I find myself caught in submissions. I bite down on my mouth guard and push through it. Many times, I find myself escaping. It could be a placebo but I find that wearing a mouth guard lets me push myself. It provides me with an advantage others merely see as a personal preference.
Written By: Patrick J. Flores
Gracie Barra Chino