How To Train In MMA With Braces (Complete Guide)

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If you want to start training in MMA, but you’re currently a teen with your first braces or just trying to correct some alignment issues as an adult, then I’ve put together this guide for you.

In short, can you do MMA with braces?

You can train in MMA with braces by having a custom-molded mouth guard created to adapt for your jaw, teeth, and the brackets of your braces. These can be acquired from an orthodontist. Some boil-and-bite mouthguards can also be used which have enough mold to form around braces.

There are several options available to you to start or keep training in mixed martial arts even while wearing braces, so don’t think you have to miss out!

Keep reading to get the full lowdown.

Training in MMA Whilst Wearing Braces

An MMA coach teaching two students how to perform an armbar

Training MMA with braces on is common, as long as you get the right protection of a custom-fit mouthguard. Most training in MMA involves pad work, heavy bag, drills, and working with a coach safely. Damaging your braces only becomes a concern in sparring or fighting with other fighters.

If you want to keep your braces and teeth completely safe from damage (or at least, mostly safe) then you should focus on:

  • Padwork
  • Heavy bag
  • Footwork
  • Working 1-on-1 with an experienced coach
  • Only training in partner combinations or drills with an experienced partner who knows how to relax and flow without trying to prove something on your face

Keeping to these rules should help you avoid any big problems with your braces. Just keep calm, practice slowly and focus on perfecting techniques over heavy-hitting.

Fighting Whilst Wearing Braces

MMA fighters sparring at the gym

With a custom-fitted mouthguard, you can still fight an opponent whilst wearing braces. There are still risks that your mouthguard becomes displaced from a strike and causes expensive damage to your braces, so it’s important to exercise caution when fighting with braces.

Mouthguard technology these days is pretty advanced as an entire mold can be taken by your dentist or orthodontist, or even at home with many DIY kits offering great results.

But if your braces set you back in the thousands of dollars, then you might want to think carefully about what kind of fighting you want to do. As I’m sure your orthodontist will be more than happy to slap up another $1000 bill to correct the damages.

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There are a few different levels to this, though, so let’s look at wearing braces in sparring, amateur fighting, and professional fighting.

Sparring With Braces

You can spar opponents whilst wearing braces, but the safety of doing so depends a lot on the intensity level and type of sparring. Different types include flow sparring, light sparring, and heavy sparring. Make sure you know which sparring you’re doing to keep your braces safe in a fight.

In flow-sparring, the goal is often to imitate a fight in a very light and rhythmic way. The goal is not to get any significant strikes on your sparring partner. It’s to observe and respond intuitively to the way they move as it helps develop confidence in your movement and situational awareness.

In fact, many professional fighters focus a lot on flow sparring to keep their skills and twitch responses to a high level without suffering unnecessary injuries leading up to a fight.

Amateur Fighting With Braces

It is possible to get into an amateur fight with braces, but you should wear a custom-made mouthguard. Whilst amateurs are less likely to have the skills of knockout punching or jaw-accurate strikes, a fight is still very unpredictable and a lucky shot could cause a lot of damage.

In amateur fights I’ve seen first-hand, they very often start out with the techniques and positioning that their coaches have taught them. But very quickly the quality descends into limb-swinging madness and heavy strikes to the face and head are common.

Amateurs can also forget to use their mouthguard efficiently by biting down to throw and absorb punches. When you don’t bite down on your guard, a stray hit to the face can knock your mouthguard out completely.

In the heat of battle, you do not want your mouthguard falling out and leaving your teeth, or in particular your braces, open to the critical blow.

Professional Fighting With Braces

Two professional MMA fighters in the cage

It is highly recommended not to get into a professional-level fight whilst wearing braces. The skill level is much higher than an amateur fight and accurate blows to the jaw are common, risking a serious injury to your braces and teeth even whilst wearing a custom mouthguard.

If you’ve progressed so far to reach a professional stage in your MMA career (congratulations, by the way) then surely you will be taking your fitness and health very seriously.

Without protecting your safety in all ways possible, you can’t imagine having a very long career in MMA. In any sport, repetitive and significant injuries are the main cause of early dropouts. And MMA is no different as injuries keep fighters away from the sport for years at a time.

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If you want to get your teeth fixed up, then plan ahead to take time off your work and wear your braces with pride. Then, only participate in flow-sparring or maybe light-sparring to keep your weapons sharp and your braces safe from harm. Always always always wear a custom-fitted mouthguard and if something goes wrong with the fitting, get a new mold and new guard as soon as possible!

Protecting Your Braces In MMA

To protect your braces whilst continuing to train in MMA, you need to get a custom-fitted mouthguard by a professional orthodontist. Whilst many custom mouthguards can be bought online and molded at home, they aren’t designed to be flexible around a full set of braces.

Usually, the issue is that a standard custom mouthguard simply won’t have enough moldable guard to protect your teeth and your braces. You will need an extra thick mouthguard crafted specifically for your teeth and braces.

The safest option is to seek professional help with this via your orthodontist or dentist.

Boil and Bite Mouthugards

A boxer wearing a boil and bite mouthguard

There are some options, though, such as Impact Mouthguard’s Quick-Fit Boil and Bite mouthguards.

A simple guard like this might give you enough protection for light sparring, but boil and bite mouthguards typically don’t have the same protection level as a custom one so they can’t be depended on in heavy or full-contact sparring.

Double Sided Mouthguards

A person putting in a double sided mouthguard

It’s possibly a good idea to even consider a double-sided mouthguard if your braces cover your bottom teeth as well. A double-sided mouthguard is bitten-down on in the middle, but it has teeth and gum protection covering both top and bottom sets of teeth.

Double-sided mouthguards are a bit more awkward to wear as they make breathing more challenging (though most have extra airflow holes) and speaking impossible. Airflow is pretty important when fighting as quick exhales are a common part of throwing strikes to ensure efficiency.

Final Word: Should You Fight With Braces?

You can fight wearing braces with the adequate protection of an orthodontist-fitted custom mouthguard. But deciding if you should depend on how valuable your braces are and if you are prepared to deal with the costs of having them fixed or completely replaced. Braces can be extremely expensive!

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