Contribution from freelance writer Jackie
Tooth loss or dental damage is a common problem faced by athletes, especially in combat sports such as Muay Thai, kickboxing, taekwondo, and boxing. In a study of male athletes who engage in these sports, it was found that 95 percent of athletes had some form of dental damage, and tooth fractures were the most common dental injuries. Most of the iconic and professional Asian boxers know that protecting their teeth is a must before stepping into the ring, but those who box as a way to keep fit should also take active measures to keep their teeth in good condition. Here is the boxer’s guide to mouthguards and dental health.
Get fitted for a mouthpiece
Long before boxers wore mouthguards, fighters during the late 1800s would protect their teeth with a quartered orange, cotton wool, or a crude device made from a rubber-like substance. Since then, mouthguards have gone a long way, and professional boxers now wear custom-fitted mouthpieces to protect their teeth and gums from damage and to guard against jaw fractures. Buying a ready-made mouthpiece isn’t recommended as every mouth is unique, so you’ll need to go to a dentist or orthodontist to get custom fitted. Those who wear braces should also get fitted to accommodate their dental appliances to ensure that their teeth, braces, and gums are adequately protected.
Beware of the boil and bite mouthguard
Some professional boxers have as much as three or more specially made mouthpieces on hand during fights. However, most amateurs often choose to cut corners as they don’t have enough funds to buy a custom-fitted piece, so they opt for a generic rubber mouthpiece that’s readily available in sporting goods stores. Athletes who are looking to save money would boil these mouthguards to soften them, then put them in their mouths so the piece would reform and fit over their teeth and gums. While using boil and bite mouthguards may be fine during practice, using these in an actual fight isn’t recommended at all as it’s not enough to protect one's mouth against damage. Even having just one customized mouthpiece will make a difference while you’re in the ring as having one means that your mouth is well-protected, enabling you to save money on dental work should you get hit on the jaw or mouth during a fight.
Replace mouthguards after a year
A customized mouthpiece should last through a year of regular use in the ring and during sparring sessions. Make sure to visit your orthodontist to get a new one every year to ensure that you’re well-protected while boxing. You should also inspect your mouthguard regularly for any signs of wear and tear so you’ll know if it needs to be replaced right away.
Sanitize your mouthguard after every use
Cleaning your mouthguard is a must for your health and your protective gear’s longevity. After a sparring session or a fight, rinse it off with some clean water, then deep clean it once you get home. To thoroughly clean your mouthpiece, fill a small bowl with distilled vinegar, then soak your mouthguard in it for 40 minutes. After that, rinse it well using cool water, then soak the mouthguard in a small bowl filled with hydrogen peroxide for another 40 minutes. Rinse the mouthpiece again with water, then allow it to dry before storing. Keep your mouthguard in a clean container with air vents, and don’t forget to clean the container regularly and make sure that it’s dry before placing your mouthpiece inside it.
Eat a tooth-friendly diet
Some foods can be beneficial for a boxer’s dental health, so make sure to consume calcium-rich milk, yogurt, and cheese to strengthen your teeth. You may also want to increase your consumption of dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, and green tea as these can help to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Avoid overly sweet foods and processed foods, as well as sugary drinks to keep your teeth in tiptop shape.
Keeping your mouth well-protected is a must during fights and sparring sessions. Follow these tips to keep your teeth, gums, and jaw healthy and well-protected. Should dental issues occur, consult your dentist for proper treatment.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.