I sparred and grappled for many a year with little to no mouth guard or any type of protection for my teeth and mouth. Put quite simply, it was stupid! God knows how much stress and damage I did to the enamel and structure of my teeth over the years.
My evolution slowly creeped to the classical "boil & bite" style mouth guards. Lured by asinine claims like "$20,000 Dental Insurance," I thought these guards would be just fine. But as I started to use the B&B guards more I noticed afterwards my teeth and jaw would feel out of whack and sometimes sore. I got tired of feeling like this, not to mention the B&B guards are really hard to breathe with when they are in your mouth which is not good in any type of sparring.
I did a bit of research online for whom was making affordable (key word) solidly built custom mouth guards that are pressure laminated. Dentists have recommended pressure laminated made guards over vacuum made because the pressure laminated allow multiple layers and I have noticed that they allow more "play" in the way they are worn, without sacrificing protection. Smartguards Canada is one of the best I have found!
I wanted to make sure I was not getting ripped off, so I asked my family dentist about this whole process and he agreed with everything I had found regarding the pressure laminate, and explained that for the same thing it would cost $400-500 to get one done with him! He encouraged me to use Smartguards.
If you are looking for a good quality custom mouth guard (and when I say IF you are looking, I mean if you don't already have one you need one so go order one now!) then you will be more than happy with Smartguards. If you already have a mold of your mouth you can save about $10, but otherwise they send you all the things you need to take an impression of your upper row of teeth, you send it back and within a few weeks your custom made mouth guard arrives. Not only is it a snug fit almost feeling like it is vacuum locked onto your teeth, but it also comes with your name laminated in the guard, and you can choose any color, design or logo you want. Yours truly of course got a Blackhawks logo and colors on mine. I tried to take a pic, but they came out shitty.
The Smartguard is easy to breathe through, where actually I barely notice it in my mouth. Communication is only slightly hindered. Very comfortable and easy to keep clean. Now I have not been all out socked, but I have caught several elbows and knee's in the mouth grappling and the guard has done an amazing job thus far. I have also noticed just how much I actually clench my jaw when sparring and grappling! Something I had not noticed before. Again this guard is amazing in helping with that issue.
All in all Smartguards cost about $125 US and are worth twice that! I have seen lots of new companies who have come out since I ordered this guard, but many of them are $500- 5000!! For your average athlete in any sport these guards will work wonders. Think about a knocked out tooth will cost on average at least several thousand dollars depending on the damage! Even for me that is simple math.
Train Hard. Train Smart.