This article has been medically reviewed and verified by Dr. Lara Coseo (DDS, FAGD)
updated for accuracy on January 9th, 2023
Should I wear a mouth guard while lifting weights?
Although many people think mouth guards are only important in contact sports – like wrestling, American football, boxing, and martial arts – dental experts think otherwise.
In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the use of mouth guards for 29 sports, including the ones mentioned above, plus: weightlifting, handball, basketball, and acrobatics among others.
Data from research by the National Youth Sports Foundation shows that strength athletes are sixty times more likely to suffer a tooth (or teeth) damage when they are not wearing protective mouth guards – weightlifting being among the strength sports.
Reasons to wear a mouth guard while lifting weights
- prevention of possible injury from accident
- prevent the teeth damage from excessive clenching
- prevents jaw pain from grinding or clenching on teeth
- something to “bear down on”
- can improve concentration
The importance of wearing a protective mouth guard when training or competing cannot be underestimated. Read on to find out more about the benefits of using a mouth guard as a weightlifter and how can easily order a custom fit online.
Why exactly would you use a mouth guard for weight lifting?
A recent study by the Bloorview Macmillan Children’s Center shows that the most frequent orofacial injuries athletes incur when practicing sports are dental injuries.
Besides teeth injuries which may cause loss of teeth; blows on the chin or any strong impact on the base of the jaws or skull may cause a serious fracture or a concussion. Experts advise that athletes can significantly prevent these types of injuries by using protective mouth guards.
Dr. Ann Sagalyn, a dentist and Vice President of Avon Village Family Dentistry says that a lot of weightlifters suffer dental injuries because of the teeth-grinding and gritting they do when lifting.
“When they don’t wear protective mouthpieces, the grinding and gritting can result in injuries in the enamel, pulp, cementum, or any other parts of the teeth”
Dr. Sagalyn goes on to explain that when a substance as strong and hard as a tooth grinds against a substance with similar hardness and strength, chances are, there will be some damage. The clenching that occurs when weightlifters are in action results in a tooth-to-tooth action that may cause holes, cracks, or even worse: damage to the teeth or the jaws.
Dr. Vastardis, a New York-based dentist and member of the International Academy for Sports Dentistry adds that: if a weightlifter does not wear a protective mouth guard, the clenching and grinding may cause gum recession, teeth fractures, weakened facial muscles, and even cause headaches after training or competing.
The reality of repetitive teeth clenching
The pressure from the clenching can also wear down and crack the enamel, causing holes in the teeth which may be painful. Again, with time, the small holes may turn into full-blown cavities that may lead to teeth loss and/or teeth flattening.
If I don’t wear a mouth guard, am I at risk for a concussion?
A concussion is the most serious and possibly fatal orofacial injury an athlete can suffer.
While concussions are more likely to happen in contact sports, strength athletes like weightlifters are also at risk of falls that may result in concussions. Without a protective mouth guard, the trauma resulting from the jaws jarring together violently may cause an impact on the base of the skull, leading to a concussion.
While mild concussions may have less severe effects like headaches, loss of consciousness or memory – which may last from a few minutes to a few weeks – more serious concussions can result in severe problems. These dangerous, long-lasting and potentially career-ending problems include having trouble with movement, speaking, or reading.
As a weightlifter, you can prevent all the above risks by using a mouth guard whenever you are training or competing. You can find simple over-the-counter mouth guards for a few dollars. Better still, you can have one custom-made for you online.
Benefits of using a mouth guard while weight lifting
So having looked at the reasons why you would use a preventative mouth guard for weight lifting, perhaps you now have an idea of the benefits they present to users. For a better understanding, here are the benefits in detail;
• Mouth guards act as buffers between the cheeks, the teeth, and the soft lip and tongue tissues. This way they prevent your tissues from bruising and laceration as a result of clenching and grinding during an action.
• A preventative mouthpiece protects your opposing teeth, dental braces, or fixed anterior bridgework from seismic contact. This helps you avoid fractures, dislocations, root damage and possible tooth loss.
• When using a mouth guard, your mandible is given an elastic and recuperative support that prevents fractures and any other damages to the jaws, especially the lower jaws.
• Preventative mouth guards help reduce the risk of suffering a concussion. They act as shock absorbers between the lower and the upper jaws. Without a mouth guard, in case of an accident while in action, like a collision or a fall, your jaws may violently jar together. This may result in a distribution of the impact from the mandible to the base of your skull, causing a concussion.
• The reinforcement a mouth guard offers can also help prevent possible neck injuries.
• Mouth guards also offer psychological benefits to athletes. Much research shows that athletes feel more confident and they are more aggressive when they have worn a protective mouth guard. For instance, in a recent study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (which you can find here) researchers found that athletes wearing a protective mouthpiece had a better control of their cortisol levels than those who had no protective mouthpieces on. Cortisol is a vital steroid that helps in dealing with stress.
Wearing a mouth guard while lifting weights is a choice toward better self care, damage prevention and safety. Many weight lifters claim wearing a mouth guard improves their performance. Try it out! All Sentinel Mouthguards come with a 90 day money back guarantee!
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