Do Footballers Wear Mouthguards? Protecting Your Smile on the Pitch.

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Staying safe in sports is a big deal, especially in football. With rapid movements, unexpected collisions, and the occasional airborne football boot, things can get a bit crazy. That brings us to today’s topic: do football players wear mouthguards?

Unlike shin guards that everyone has to wear, using mouthguards in football is up to the players. There’s no official rule about it, so some players wear them, and some don’t.

In this article, we’re diving into the world of mouthguards in football, where protection and skill come together.

We’ll explore why some players swear by these rubbery shields while others just play it without. Let’s get into the details!

Do Football Players Wear Mouthguards?

Smiling Woman Holds Transparent Plastic Mouth Guard in Her Hand

Yes, some football players wear mouthguards.

The decision to wear a mouthguard varies among players and is often a matter of personal choice.

But nowadays, only 2.8 professional football players per match wear these protective devices not only during actual games but also during rigorous training sessions and practice scrimmages.

Players wear mouthguards to protect their teeth and jaws, and reduce the risk of certain injuries during the game.

Benefits of Wearing a Football Mouthguard

Wearing a mouthguard during football offers a range of benefits including:

Protects Your Teeth from Damage

Football is a high-energy sport that involves swift movements, sudden changes in direction, and physical contact.

Mouthguards act like a cushion, stopping oral injuries that could happen from things like an accidental elbow, a header gone wrong, or bumping into another player!

Reduces the Risk of Brain Injuries

Wearing a mouthguard has a not-so-obvious perk: it can help lower the chance of brain injuries, like concussions.

Research shows that mouthguards that fit well can spread out the force of impacts across the head, which could mean fewer concussions.

While not a foolproof measure, the added layer of protection can make a significant difference in safeguarding a player’s head during unexpected contact on the field.

Prevents Unintentional Cuts in the Mouth

Football is full of quick moves and lots of run-ins with opponents, which can sometimes lead to surprising hits.

These hits, even if they’re not too bad, can cause accidental cuts on the inside of the mouth from sharp teeth, braces, or the player’s own tongue.

A good mouthguard acts like a cushion that reduces the chances of these accidents happening.

It works to prevent both cuts and accidental biting, making it a double-duty tool that keeps your mouth safe and stops avoidable injuries.

Guards Against Jaw Injuries

Football can be tough on the jaw, particularly in scenarios involving headers or collisions.

A mouth guard provides a layer of cushioning that absorbs and disperses forces, helping to protect the jaw from fractures or other injuries.

This extra layer of protection means the jaw can handle surprises on the pitch and stay strong.

Boosts Confidence and Focus

Having the assurance that you’ve done something to keep yourself safe can really boost your confidence and keep you focused when you’re playing.

A mouthguard can give you that sense of security, so you can concentrate on your game and skills instead of stressing about getting hurt.

Disadvantages of Wearing a Football Mouthguard

A white custom mouthguard in hand

So wearing mouthguards during football offers several benefits, but there are also some potential downsides to consider:

Discomfort and Distraction

If a mouthguard isn’t well-fitted or is made from uncomfortable material, it can cause irritation to your gums, lips, and cheeks.

This discomfort might distract you during the game. Constantly fiddling with the mouthguard or adjusting it can break your focus and have a negative impact on how you perform.

Communication Challenges

Mouthguards can impede clear communication on the field.

Your speech could sound muffled, and it might be tough for others to hear you.

This could make it difficult to give instructions, talk about tactics, or let your teammates know about upcoming challenges!

Breathing Difficulties

Some mouthguards can mess with the way you naturally breathe, which might make it tough to breathe comfortably, especially during intense physical activities.

Players who need to take deep breaths for their best performance might feel like they can’t breathe as freely and might get tired faster.

Impact on Performance

Some players believe that wearing a mouth guard affects their proprioception—the sense of how their body is positioned and moving in space.

This could throw off their balance, control, and touch when they’re handling the soccer ball or trying to do specific moves with precision.

Increased Salivation

Wearing a mouthguard might trigger your mouth to produce more saliva, which could make you feel like you’re salivating a lot! Ew!

This might lead you to want to spit more during the game, which could be a bit bothersome and impact your focus. And look gross!

Aesthetic Concerns

For some players, wearing a mouthguard could make them worry about how they look.

If the mouthguard is noticeable when you talk or smile, it might affect your self-confidence both during games and in general. This could end up affecting how you play overall.

Potential for Misplacement

The fast-paced nature of football means mouthguards can sometimes become dislodged during gameplay.

Having to pick up and put back the mouthguard that’s covered in grass takes time and can interrupt the game’s rhythm!

Famous Football Players That Wear Mouthguards

While the use of mouthguards in football might not be as common as other protective gear, several famous football players have been known to wear mouthguards for added protection:

  • Lionel Messi
  • Neymar Jr.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Harry Kane
  • Gerard Piqué
  • Edinson Cavani
  • James Rodriguez

Best Types of Mouthguards for Football Use

When it comes to choosing a mouthguard for football, there are a few options to consider. Here are the main types of mouthguards suitable for football:

Stock Mouthguards

Stock mouthguards are ready-to-use, off-the-shelf options found in many sports shops or online. They come in different sizes but aren’t tailored to your mouth.

They’re affordable and easy to get, but they might not fit very well, making them less comfy and possibly less protective.

Stock mouthguards might not be the best for people with braces or specific dental needs.

Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards

Boil-and-bite mouthguards are also readily available at sports shops and offer a degree of customization.

Players soften the mouthguard in boiling water and then bite into it, allowing it to adapt somewhat to the contours of their teeth.

While this type of mouthguard provides a better fit than stock options, it might not effectively accommodate braces or dental work.

Custom Mouthguards

Custom mouthguards are the best for protection and comfort, especially for football players with braces.

These mouthguards are made by taking a mold of your teeth, so they fit exactly right, ensuring a precise fit that accounts for individual dental features, braces, and any orthodontic appliances.

They offer optimal protection against impacts and minimize the risk of discomfort or interference during play.

Double-Layer Mouthguards

Certain mouthguards have two layers: a soft inside layer for comfort and a tougher outside layer for extra protection from hits.

These mouthguards give you both cushioning and strength, which is why a lot of football players like them. They’re a good choice if you want both comfort and safety.

A young woman at the orthodontist

Is It Safe to Wear Mouthguards With Braces On?

Wearing a mouthguard with braces is recommended to ensure the safety and protection of both your teeth and your braces during physical activities like sports.

But there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure both your comfort and the effectiveness of the mouthguard:

Custom-Fitted Mouthguards

While standard “boil-and-bite” mouthguards are available, they might not provide a proper fit for individuals with braces.

It’s recommended to opt for a custom-fitted mouthguard, which can be specifically designed to accommodate your braces’ structure, ensuring both protection and comfort.

Consult Your Orthodontist

Before picking a mouthguard, talk to your orthodontist first!

They can chat with you about what you need and suggest the right mouthguard for your braces. They’ll help you choose the best one for you.

Orthodontic Wax

Braces sometimes have sharp parts that might bother your mouth or even cause injuries, especially during sports.

Putting orthodontic wax on those sharp edges before you wear the mouthguard can make you feel more comfortable.

Regular Maintenance

Taking good care of both your braces and your mouthguard is super important.

Keep your braces clean and do what your orthodontist tells you! And don’t forget to clean your mouthguard really well before and after you use it to keep your mouth healthy.

Choose the Right Type of Mouthguard

Some mouthguards are designed specifically for use with braces, featuring extra space to accommodate the brackets and wires.

These mouthguards are usually more comfy and do a better job of keeping you safe.

The Final Score

Using a mouthguard during football brings lots of advantages that go beyond the pitch.

Mouthguards play an integral role in preserving your dental health. It not only safeguards your jaw but also reduces the risk of sports-related injuries like knocked-out teeth, broken dental work, and concussions that can result from impacts during intense sports activities.

Wearing this basic but effective protective gear can boost both how you play and how you feel overall as a football player.

This article was written by

  • Mia Johnson, Fitness Expert & Football Coach

    Hello! I'm Mia, a high school Physical Education teacher in Surrey, UK by day and a football blog contributor by night. My journey with football began just like any other enthusiastic player - on a local field, chasing after a ball and dreaming big. Football became my way to teach, inspire, and connect with others. In the classroom (and on the field), I'm all about promoting fitness, teamwork, and the pure joy of sports. Writing for the blog lets me extend this passion to a wider audienc...