Do You Need A Mouthguard For BJJ?


do you need a mouthguard for BJJ?

When I first started Brazilian jiu-jitsu I remember wondering if I needed to get a mouthguard. I had done a bit of boxing so I was pretty familiar with wearing mouthguards. Of course in boxing, you have a fist flying at your face so of course, you need a mouthguard for that. But what about BJJ? Do you need a mouthguard for Brazilian jiu-jitsu? 

The simple answer is yes you do need a mouthguard for BJJ. Just because you might not be getting punched or kicked does not mean you are not a risk of still chipping a tooth or worse. In fact, accidental elbows and headbutts are very common when rolling in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 

So you most certainly should wear a mouthguard when doing BJJ, especially when rolling and during competition. This goes for all forms of grappling as well. Especially when we start to add takedowns or slams. Then the risk for injury increases even more.

This is a lesson I learned in my first BJJ competition. It’s not that I didn’t know any better or that I thought I was too hardcore for a mouthpiece. To be honest it’s because I got so nervous before my first BJJ match that I completely forgot to put in my mouthguard. Luckily I only chipped a very small edge of my tooth. It is not noticeable by looks but I will forever know how easily it could have been much worse. 

Why You Need A Mouthguard For BJJ

So many things can happen when rolling in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I have been kneed in the face, elbowed in the face, and even kicked in the face when sparring. All of course by accident. Sometimes it might not even be from the partner you are rolling with. 

In fact, not too long ago a classmate of mine got his eye cut open from a flying foot that came from the people rolling next to him. I don’t say this to scare you, just to tell you that you need a mouthguard for BJJ. 

Even if you are being careful, your partner or the people rolling next to you might not be. It’s like driving a car. Just because you might be driving safely does not mean the other people on the road are.  

Of course, I just gave you some examples of reasons to wear a mouthguard in BJJ. However, there are many more reasons to wear a mouthguard than simply protecting your teeth. Mouthguards also help in protecting your gums, your lips, and even your tongue. 

In fact, this brings to mind another lesson I have learned. Some of the few times I have rolled without a mouthguard I have bitten my tongue. Thankfully it was never too bad, however, that does not mean I could not happen pretty easily. The same goes for your lips. A mouthguard can potentially be the difference between needing or not needing stitches in an accident.

In addition, mouthguards can also assist in protecting your jaw. The extra cushion between your teeth acts as an extra layer of protection for your jaw. Perhaps you might like the look of cauliflower ears and missing teeth. Heck, I probably wouldn’t want to mess with you if I saw you walking down the street.  But as for me, I am going to do everything in my power to keep all of my teeth in my mouth where they belong. 

When and How To Use A Mouthguard For BJJ

Though I have already suggested that you wear a mouthguard when rolling, I actually do not wear my mouthguard throughout the entire class. I am not saying that you shouldn’t wear it the whole time but I personally do not. The times that I do not wear a mouthguard are during the warmup and when going over techniques. 

Typically once we are done with going over some techniques my professor will typically have us do some situational drills and then we will roll. I will always grab my mouthpiece before we do this. Though It might be better just to wear your mouthguard the whole time, you do most certainly need to wear it when you are doing any live training.  

Another obvious time to wear a mouthguard is when competing. This goes without saying but you are at a much bigger risk when competing. After all, both competitors will be full of adrenaline and typically much more aggressive than when rolling in class. Because of this, you are much more likely to regret not wearing a mouthguard when competing. 

Best Mouthguards For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Athletes

By far the best mouthguard for grappling would be a custom-fitted mouthguard. Of course, to get one of these you would have to get it custom-made by a dentist or orthodontist. That said, this is not something that I have taken the time to do. In addition, it’s hard for me to want to do this when I can get a good mouthguard for under $30. It is, however, probably the best option if you can afford it. 

Of course, there are plenty of great mouthguards that should work plenty fine that you can get at most sporting goods stores or online. These are typically the boil and bite mouthguards and are the most common for grapplers and mixed martial artists. Though maybe not as thoroughly molded as custom-made mouthguards, they are molded to fit your teeth. 

By boiling the mouthguard you soften in enough to basically bite your teeth into it. By doing this you are custom molding the mouthguard to fit your teeth.

Why the SISU 1.6 Aero Guard Mouth Guard Is My Top Pick For BJJ 

Of all the mouthguards on the market, my favorite would have to be the SISU 1.6 Aero Guard. It has all of the attributes of a great mouthguard but is about half as thick as most other mouthguards.

However, that is not to say that it is not just as protective. It is a very high-quality mouthguard but is much more comfortable. This makes it easier to breathe, talk, or grab a drink of water between rolling sessions. It is also in my opinion, simply the best-looking mouthguard as well. 

Another great mouthguard is the venom challenger mouthguard. This is also a very comfortable mouthguard. Though not quite as thin as the SISU it is still very comfortable. Of course, most of the mouthguards made for contact sports will work fine. Just make sure they are strapless and are molded to your teeth in some way. 

I would not suggest buying what’s called stock mouthguards. These are ready-to-use mouthguards that are not made to be fitted to an individual’s teeth. Though they might be the cheapest option, they do not have the same level of protection. If you plan on doing BJJ for a long time then it is worth the money to spend an extra 10 bucks on a much higher quality mouthguard. 

Proper Mouthguard Maintenance

If you buy a nice mouthguard you are going to what to make sure you take good care of it. Be sure to buy a case for your mouthguard if it does not already come with one. In addition, make sure to clean your mouthguard with soap and water after each use. You can also soak it in hydrogen peroxide on occasion to ensure your mouthguard stays clean. You do not want any bacteria to build-up on your mouthguard. 

As far as custom fitting and molding, you will simply want to follow the manufactures instructions for your particular brand of mouthguard. Though typically most mouthguards are molded the same way, they can be small variances between brands. 

In Summary

Yes, you should wear a mouthguard when doing BJJ or any other form of grappling. This is especially true when competing or live rolling. Make sure to get a high-quality mouthguard that is in some way custom-fitted or molded to your teeth. Lastly, make sure to keep your mouthguard clean to prevent any kind of bacteria build-up. 


Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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