Best Athletic Mouthguards

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

26 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
146 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best athletic mouthguards

Last Updated July 2019

Athletic mouthguards seem so commonplace in most sports that they don’t always get the attention they’re due. For years, shopping for an athletic mouthguard was a simple task of choosing from three different sizes, which didn’t always fit correctly even after boiling the mouthguard to shape it a little more closely to the teeth. And a simple mouthguard is not always the right choice.

Finding the right mouthguard for a sport is essential for a lot of reasons — not just for comfort, but for injury prevention as well. Today’s athletic mouthguards come in a range of materials, including flexible silicone, soft EVA, and instant-fit gel, to provide the best fit possible. You can also find them with handy features, such as lip guards and straps, as well as in different colors and designs.

Read on for our guide to athletic mouthguards and learn a few tips and some things you may not have known about this essential protective gear. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.

Professional boxing was the first sport to require mouthguards, beginning in the 1920s. High school football didn’t require mouthguards until 1962.

Key considerations

An athletic mouthguard protects the teeth and the inside of the mouth from injury due to impact. It can prevent or reduce the severity of injuries to the jaw and may help to prevent or reduce a concussion. That’s why mouthguards are now seen in every contact sport and at every level, from pee-wee players to professional athletes.

The type of mouthguard varies based on the needs of the athlete and the sport. For example, a football quarterback needs to be able to call plays through the mouthguard, while a defensive lineman needs a bigger guard that protects against repeated heavy hits. A boxer needs a stabilizing mouthguard that still allows for free breathing through multiple rounds.

Mouthguards also can conform to individual needs. Those with braces, for example, need a mouthguard that fits around their braces and allows for changes in the alignment of their teeth. In fact, the fit of a mouthguard in general is important, because players whose mouthguards don’t fit well may be less likely to use them.

Because of the need to tailor an athletic mouthguard to the sport and to the player, buying a stock guard — one that can’t be adjusted — isn’t recommended for contact sports like ice hockey, football, or martial arts. Athletes who wear mouthguards for added safety in noncontact sports, like mountain biking or skateboarding, will find stock guards uncomfortable as well.

DID YOU KNOW?

A good mouthguard can last three to five years if properly cared for. Athletes under the age of 14 may need their mouthguard refitted or replaced every two years due to changes in their mouth and teeth.

Features

Mouthguards have come a long way from the days of inflexible “gum shields” that boxers struggled to fit over their teeth. Today, athletic mouthguards come in more than one type and feature patterns and designs that would make previous generations jealous.

Types of mouthguards

  • Stock: The least expensive and least comfortable mouthguard available, a stock mouthguard comes in just a few sizes and can’t be adjusted.

  • Boil-and-bite: An affordable option for parents with younger players, this mouthguard is made of a material that softens slightly when placed in boiling water and hardens when it returns to room temperature. While still warm, the guard is fitted tightly around the teeth so that it better conforms to their shape.

  • Custom: This is a pricey option for athletes who need precise fit, comfort, and shape. A dentist or specialist creates the mouthguard using a vacuum-form or pressure-laminated process after making a mold of the athlete’s teeth.

Common materials

  • Thermoplastic: This is a material used frequently in boil-and-bite mouthguards that softens when heated and can be found in clear or laminated versions.

  • Instant-fit gel: This conforms to the wearer’s teeth without needing to boil the mouthguard first.

  • Silicone: A flexible material, silicone is ideal for those with braces because their teeth alignment is changing.

  • EVA: Ethylene-vinyl acetate is a soft, flexible rubber-like material that cushions the teeth.

Optional features

  • Lip guard: A polymer shield that fits to the front of the mouthguard and covers the wearer’s lips. This can be helpful in sports where the helmet does not include a face mask or cage.

  • Strap: This is used to tether the mouthguard to the helmet so it doesn’t get lost. Sometimes the strap is molded onto the mouthguard. On convertible mouthguards, the strap can be removed.

  • Color or designs: Users can opt for mouthguards in several different colors or with designs like geometric shapes, flowers, or fangs.
EXPERT TIP

A properly fitted mouthguard should stay on the teeth even when the mouth is open.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Double mouthguards protect the upper and lower teeth and help keep the jaw aligned, which may provide extra protection in high-contact sports. They’re bulky and can be uncomfortable, though, making them a less popular choice.


Staff  | BestReviews

Athletic mouthguard prices

Inexpensive: Stock mouthguards, which require no adjustment, are the lowest-priced mouthguards available with a price of $5 to $8.

Mid-range: Boil-and-bite mouthguards rule the middle price range and can be found between $11 and $21.

Expensive: More specialized mouthguards, such as double guards that protect teeth with braces, can cost between $23 and $46, setting them at the high end of the price spectrum, while custom-made mouthguards, obtained through a dentist, can cost $200 or more.

Tips

  • A thin, tight-fitting mouthguard is good for athletes who need to speak, breathe, and drink more easily.

  • Flavored mouthguards mask the taste of the rubber material with a fruity flavor.

  • A convertible mouthguard is ideal for those who can’t decide whether to use a strap or not.

  • In sports like hockey, where a full helmet is worn, a mouthguard with a thin front profile and thicker protection on either side will protect against collisions.

  • Athletes wearing braces should consider custom-fit mouthguards for their top and bottom teeth that are more comfortable to wear while protecting the hardware and teeth.

  • Clean your mouthguard after each use by rinsing it in water.

  • Keep the mouthguard in its case when not in use.

  • If a mouthguard needs deeper cleaning, soak it in an effervescent denture cleaner; avoid scrubbing with a toothbrush or toothpaste.

  • When shaping a boil-and-bite mouthguard, be careful not to bite all the way through the bottom of the guard.

  • If a stock or boil-and-bite mouthguard rubs against your gums, use scissors or an X-ACTO knife to trim down the top of the guard.

Other products we considered

For athletes wearing braces, we felt the Shock Doctor Double Braces Mouthguard did the best job of protecting both upper and lower teeth without being too uncomfortable. We thought the Venum Predator mouthguard looked really cool — an essential factor in martial arts sparring, of course — but with only one size, its boil-and-bite fit may not be enough. And the Impact Custom Professional Mouthguard caught our eye as it can be custom-molded to the user’s teeth for less than half of what a dentist charges.

Athletic mouthguards absorb impact from a punch, tackle, or heavy blow and distribute the force of that impact through the guard material — dramatically reducing the level of direct force reaching the teeth and jaw.

FAQ

Q.  Should a mouthguard protect both the upper and lower teeth?

A.  Unless the rules of the sport require upper and lower protection, or you have a specific need to protect the upper and lower teeth (such as braces), a mouthguard for the upper teeth only is usually adequate. Remember, the bigger the mouthguard, the bulkier it feels and the more it can restrict breathing.

Q.  I feel like I can’t breathe when wearing a mouthguard. Am I doing something wrong?

A. Try refitting your mouthguard if it’s a boil-and-bite by placing it back in boiling water for several seconds (usually less than a minute), letting it cool slightly, and then placing it over your upper teeth. Use your fingers to press the guard against the teeth, and close your jaw firmly to press your lower teeth against the bottom of the guard. The guard should stay in place when you open and close your mouth without slipping. If that doesn’t work, try a different athletic mouthguard that has a thinner profile or more breathing holes.

Q.  My mouthguard used to fit perfectly, but now it slips out of place and is uncomfortable to wear. Can I fix it?

A.  You can try boiling it again and refitting, but if the guard is well worn or looks warped or frayed around the edges, it is probably time to replace it.

Q. I have a mouthguard that I wear for football. Can I use it for MMA sparring as well?

A.  For boxing, MMA, and other martial arts sparring, you need a mouthguard that allows you to breathe as easily as possible while providing protection from direct contact to the face. Mouthguards for football and lower-priced stock mouthguards aren’t ideal for sparring. Plus, constant use will break down the mouthguard more quickly. Instead, purchase a separate mouthguard for sparring.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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