Practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) doesn’t require much equipment. Some mats, a partner, and maybe a jiu-jitsu gi is all you’ll generally need, but that doesn’t account for protective equipment needed to keep your body safe and ready for another training session. Any grappler that’s spent any amount of time on the mats knows that accidents happen, and wearing a mouth guard during sparring can be the difference between a bloody mouth (or worse, a lost tooth) and a mouthful of pearly white teeth.
Choosing the right mouth guard for BJJ can be an important decision. The mouth guard is, after all, protecting your smile and your brain. To help you make that important decision easier, we’ve provided a complete buyer’s guide for mouth guards for BJJ, as well as our top 10 recommended mouth guards.
Why should I wear a mouth guard in BJJ?
There are a number of reasons to wear a mouth guard while practicing BJJ. First, we should be clear: you don’t need to wear a mouth guard 100% of the time you’re on the mat. During light drilling or practicing technique, it’s perfectly fine to forego the mouth guard so you can easily speak with your partner during these types of light activities that don’t put your teeth and brain in danger.
Perhaps most importantly, mouth guards can help protect your brain from concussions. By absorbing the shock of an impact to the jaw and the face, wearing a properly fitting mouth guard can reduce the likelihood of suffering a concussion. This finding was confirmed by a study of youth hockey players published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. And although grapplers aren’t striking each other, accidental collisions and hard takedowns do happen, both of which put grapplers at risk for concussions.
More obviously, mouth guards protect the teeth and mouth. A tightly-fitting layer of protection around the top and sometimes bottom set of teeth is often all a grappler needs to keep his or her teeth straight and safe. Again, jiu-jitsu players aren’t striking each other, but a hard rolling session will inevitably include collisions and clashes, some of which could easily result in a lost tooth. Moreover, even the collision isn’t strong enough to dislodge a tooth, it will often result in a bloody mouth; a mouth guard prevents those types of injuries so you can continue training without a break.
Finally, wearing a mouth guard will also protect your partners. BJJ is an intimate sport, and if you’re not wearing a mouth guard during rolling, you could easily cut your partner with your teeth when defending chokes or simply in the process of a hard scramble.
In short: wear a mouth guard. It’s good for you and your partners.
How are mouth guards fitted to your teeth?
The most common method of fitting a mouth guard is the “boil and bite” method. For these mouth guards, you’ll simply drop the mouth guard in boiling or near-boiling water for a brief amount of time (follow each mouth guard’s specific instructions), remove it from the water, then bite down on the mouth guard while it is still soft to form a tight fit around your teeth.
The boil and bite method is simple and quick. It can be performed in a matter of minutes at home. Another benefit of this method of fitting is that if you don’t like the fit on the first try, you can re-boil and re-bite until your mouth guard fits just right.
For grapplers looking for an even tighter fit, there are a number of mouth guards that are professionally formed after sending in a mold of your teeth; we’ll call these impression fit mouth guards. These mouth guards are typically more expensive and the process takes, at minimum, several days, but the end product will be a professionally-fitted mouth guard. These mouth guards will offer the most protection and will fit the tightest on your teeth, ensuring the mouth guard doesn’t pop out during training. Also, because they fit so tightly, talking and drinking is much easier while wearing these mouth guards is much easier.
For impression fit mouth guards, you will take a mold of your teeth at home using materials sent to you after the purchase of a mouth guard. You will send that mold back using pre-paid postage, and in return, you’ll get a professionally-fitted mouth guard.
Finally, some mouth guards require no molding or fitting whatsoever; we’ll call these instant fit. These mouth guards are typically larger and specifically designed for people with braces. However, because they are not form-fitted, we do not recommend these mouth guards for grapplers that do not have braces.
What’s the difference between a single and a double mouth guard?
The standard mouth guard is a single, meaning it only covers the top set of teeth. For most grapplers, this will be enough and provide essentially all of the benefits listed above. However, for grapplers looking for extra protection, or for grapplers that have braces on their bottom teeth, we recommend a double mouth guard. The double mouth guard protects both the top and bottom teeth.
While double mouth guards offer an additional level of protection, they do come with one major downside: comfort. These mouth guards are much bigger and bulkier than the typical single mouth guard, which can take some time to get used to. Additionally, because double mouth guards require the wearer to keep his mouth closed or jaw clenched, breathing can become difficult when wearing one.
Ultimately, whether a grappler chooses a single or double mouth guard is a matter of comfort and preference.
What colors and customization options are available?
Now the fun part. Mouth guards can be a great way for a grappler to show individuality and personality. Of course, if you’re looking for a more understated look, you can choose a monochrome mouth guard in a plain color like blue or black. But if you’re hoping to make a statement with your mouth guard, there are plenty of options. Some mouth guards offer full customization, allowing you to essentially design the look of your mouth guard. Other mouth guards fall just short of full customization, but offer a wide variety of colors and designs to choose from.
In short, don’t think that just because you found a mouth guard in one color, that is the only color available. Even the most budget-friendly mouth guards come in a variety of colors, so explore your options and choose one that best matches your style.
Our top 10 recommended mouth guards for BJJ
|Method of molding||single or double||Colors/customization||Other|
|Impact Custom Mouth Guard *Best overall*||impression fit||single||Over 100 design options||6-7mm thick|
|Gladiator Custom Mouth Guard *Editor’s choice*||impression fit||single||Customizable color, logo, personal ID||Replacements are 50% off|
|OPRO Power-fit Mouth Guard *Best budget option*||boil and bite||single||50 color and design options||Unique fins ensure tighter fit|
|Sentinel Mouth Guard||impression fit||single||7 color options||Extra set of putty if needed|
|SISU Mouth Guard||boil and bite||single||8 color options||2.4mm thick|
|Damage Control Extreme Impact Mouth Guard||boil and bite||single||16 color and unique design options||Damping pad for added protection|
|Shock Doctor Double Braces Mouth Guard||instant fit||double||3 color/design options||Specifically designed for braces|
|Safejawz Mouth Guard for Braces||boil and bite||single||4 color/design options||Comfort of a single mouth guard with added protection for bottom teeth|
|Shock Doctor Braces Strapless Mouth Guard||instant fit||single||basic color options available||Specifically designed for braces|
|Redline Sporstwear Mouth Guard||boil and bite||single||5 color options available||Gel shock pads for impact protection|
1. Best overall – Impact Custom Mouth Guard
The Impact Custom Mouth Guard has all the bells and whistles of a top-of-the-line, professionally fitted mouth guard. It takes less than three minutes to form a mold of your teeth using Impact’s at-home kit. After sending your mold back to Impact, they create your custom-fitted mouth guard. This mouth guard is 6-7 mm thick, meaning it is specifically designed with impact-absorption in mind. But because the mouth guard is professionally fit to your teeth, the added thickness won’t inhibit your comfort or ability to speak while wearing the mouth guard.
Something else we like about the Impact Custom is the wide variety of color and design options. Whether you want a religious message, a military message, or simply a sleek and simple design, there are over 100 design options available.
2. Editor’s choice – Gladiator Custom Mouth Guard
We love the Gladiator Custom Mouth Guard for its customization options and the professional fitting. Another impression fit mouth guard, the Gladiator Custom will fit snug and tight to ensure comfort. What sets this mouth guard apart, though, is the wide range of color and customization options. With a wide range of colors, pre-designed logos, and the option to add a personal ID, this mouth guard will be entirely unique to you, all while offering top-of-the-line protection.
3. Best budget option – OPRO Power-fit Mouth Guard
For a boil and bite mouth guard that won’t break the bank, we recommend the OPRO Power-fit. These mouth guards have a unique fin-like design that ensures they will fit snug to your teeth after just a couple minutes of fitting in your kitchen. Moreover, the OPRO Power-fit comes with a “power-cage” to help you mold it tight to your teeth at home, rather than just using your fingers to press the mouth guard into your teeth. We also love the wide variety of color and design options available, ranging from simple two-color designs to country flags to unique designs.
The Sentinel Mouth Guard is another impression fit mouth guard. Again, we recommend these types of mouth guards for grapplers looking for a professional fit to ensure full protection and comfort. While we trust the fit and safety of the Sentinel Mouth Guard, we are less-impressed with the color and customization options, which are relatively limited compared to similar mouth guards.
If comfort and the ability to speak while wearing a mouth guard is one of the most important factors for you, we recommend the reasonably-priced, boil and bite SISU mouth guard. At just 2.4 mm thick, the SISU is extremely thin, almost to the point that you’ll forget you’re wearing it. Unlike thicker, rubber mouth guards, the SISU is hard and plastic-like when fully formed. Because of this, it fits incredibly tight on your teeth, practically to the level of an impression-fit mouth guard. That added comfort comes at a cost, though, as these mouth guards feel less likely to protect you during collisions or high impact maneuvers.
The Damage Control Extreme Impact is perfect for grapplers that want to prioritize safety, without paying the added cost of an impression fit mouth guard. This mouth guard is thick and made with a damping pad for added protection of the teeth, jaw, and brain. Additionally, these mouth guards come in 16 color and design options, ranging from plain black to unique designs (we love the “cookie monster”).
The only double mouth guard on our list, the Shock Doctor Double is the best option for grapplers with braces on both their top and bottom teeth. This mouth guard is instant fit and provides full, complete protection of both the top and bottom teeth. While this mouth guard is necessary for grapplers with braces, we offer the warning again: this type of mouth guard is big, bulky, and often uncomfortable to wear and can make breathing harder. That said, it is likely the only option for grapplers with braces on top and bottom.
While the Safejaws Mouth Guard for Braces doesn’t offer full coverage of bottom teeth, it does have added protection to protect those pearly whites. As the name suggests, this is a mouth guard designed for grapplers with braces, although we recommend this mouth guard only if your only have braces on the top set of teeth. Unlike the Shock Doctor mouth guards for braces, this mouth guard is boil and bite, meaning it will fit tighter on your teeth (but may require frequent re-molding as your teeth move).
Another mouth guard designed specifically for grapplers with braces, this mouth guard is instant fit, but only offers protection to the top teeth. Because the mouth guard is instant fit, it’s ready for use right out of the box. However, because you’re not fitting it directly to your teeth, don’t expect the mouth guard to fit snugly, and it may fall out or become uncomfortable during BJJ sparring.
The final entry on our list is the Redline Sportswear Mouth Guard. This boil and bite mouth guard offers basic protection and basic color options without any added frills. We liked the gel shock pads, which absorb the shock of impact, decreasing the likelihood of concussion or brain injury. Some reviewers have said that the mouth guard is difficult to fit properly using the boil and bite method.