Illustration of a Tooth wearing Boxing Gloves

Boxing with Braces: What You Need to Know

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Boxing with braces? That sounds pretty risky to most people when they hear the suggestion.

Yes, you can still do boxing with braces, just know that doing it carries some very real (and very obvious risks). Many people still practice the sport while having traditional metal and wire braces. They just have to take extra precautions to avoid injuries.

If you’re considering braces and boxing, here is some information you will want to know to help you make a decision.

The Risks of Boxing with Braces

Boxing with braces carries some obvious dangers. Metal or ceramic brackets are cemented to the outside of the teeth and have a metal wire running through them. If you get punched in the face or mouth while wearing braces, you run the risk of dental injuries like:

  • Cuts to Mouth & Gums: The brackets and wire from the braces can cause serious cuts to the inside of the cheeks and the gums if they take a direct hit while boxing.
  • Chipped Teeth: A cracked, fractured or chipped tooth is another very real possibility when boxing with braces.
  • Displaced Tooth: The technical term for getting a tooth knocked out is “avulsion.” A boxer with braces actually runs a greater risk of having a tooth knocked out.

Damaging Your Expensive Orthodontics

According to Value Penguin, the cost of metal or ceramic braces, or Invisalign, ranges between $3,000 and $8,000. The average cost in the US is around $5,000.

Being punched in the mouth while wearing braces could potentially mean that you have to start the whole process over with your orthodontist. Yikes!

Depending on how good your dental insurance is, you may need to really weigh the risk between your need to box and the cost of replacing your orthodontics.

Can You Fight with Braces?

Boxer with Braces putting in a mouthguard

The rules on whether a fighter can compete while wearing braces may vary from one local association to another.

According to the latest USA Boxing National Rule Book, members ARE allowed to box while wearing braces.

However, they need to fill out a Release to Compete with Braces document. If the boxer is under 18, a parent or guardian needs to sign the release form.

Any boxer choosing to fight with braces also loses the right to participate in USA Boxing’s dental insurance program.

The boxer must also have a dentist-molded mouthpiece to wear while competing. The waiver form is included in the USA Boxing National Rule Book, and the form must be attached to the fighter’s passbook.

Best Ways to Protect Your Mouth

Orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign is a process that can take two to three years for some people to complete, depending on how much the teeth need to be shifted.

That is an incredibly long time to go without boxing if it’s your favorite sport or you’re one of those people who has a burning need to fight.

If you’re going to box with braces, here are some important precautions you can take to minimize your risk.

1. Wear Headgear

Image: Public Domain

Your orthodontist will likely recommend that you wear a great set of protective headgear for sparring matches and training, for added protection.

Here are the best types of headgear for boxing with braces:

  • Face Saver: A face-saver is basically a pair of headgear with a noseguard running through the middle of it and a covering over the mouth. The Ring to Cage Deluxe GelTech 2.0 offers facial protection while providing a wide viewing window for the wearer. They’re more common in Muay Thai but are a great choice for boxers with braces.
  • Mexican Style: This type of headgear lacks a face bar, but does provide full coverage for the cheekbones. For a boxer wearing braces on the top row of teeth only, this could be a good choice — although it doesn’t provide the same level of protection as a face-saver. We prefer the Winning FG2900.
  • Open Face: An open face set of headgear will provide the least amount of protection while wearing braces, but it’s still better than nothing. If you’re wearing braces and take a shot to the head — even if it’s not directly in the mouth — the impact could still cause an injury from the braces. An open-face set of gear will at least absorb some of the impacts.

2. Wear a Custom Mouth Guard

Blue and Black Shock Doctor Braces Mouthguard
Shock Doctor Braces Mouthguard

A standard mouthguard bought at the store is probably not even going to fit over your braces. If you want to box with braces, you’re going to need a custom mouthguard fitted to your needed specifications. Here are three different types of mouthguards:

  • Braces Mouthguard: These provide a moderate amount of protection for a boxer with braces. Shock Doctor makes a special silicone Braces Mouthguard that conforms around your teeth and metal, even as your teeth adjust over time. This is a No-Boil mouthguard and meets high school requirements for competition.
  • Orthodontic Mouthguard: This is the gold standard for a mouthguard with braces. Your orthodontist can make a mold of your teeth and braces, and have a custom 3D-printed mouthguard fashioned for you. These will be a perfect fit for your teeth, and entire mouth, although they are the most expensive option. Many boxing associations will only accept an orthodontic mouthguard for participating in bouts. You’ll probably also get a lecture from the orthodontist about why you should switch to golf or cycling for your preferred sport while wearing braces, but you knew that, right?
  • Boil and Bite: We don’t usually recommend the over-the-counter boil and bite mouthguards that you can pick up at any pharmacy. Unlike a mouthguard for braces that are specifically for intense combat sports, these are more appropriate for sports where contact is lighter or less likely. Plus, most of them can only be boiled and bitten once, and then have to be replaced after your teeth shift.

3. Stick to Sparring

While you can certainly do bag work and cardio without wearing headgear or a mouthguard, you should wear them anytime you step into the ring. In order to protect your investment in braces, your best option might be to stick to sparring and avoid competition until the braces come off.

Don’t step into the ring with the local gym hothead who is only going to throw haymakers while trying to take your head off. Spar with a partner you trust and who understands that you’re wearing braces, so they can avoid throwing headshots entirely or at least pull their punches.

Can You Box with Invisalign Braces?

Invisalign is an orthodontic treatment similar to braces, which uses clear plastic aligners to shift the teeth over time. Invisalign can’t treat severely crooked teeth or overbites. However, for teens and adults who only require mild to moderate shifting of the teeth, these “invisible” aligners are a fantastic option.

The great thing about Invisalign’s clear aligners is that you’re allowed to remove them for up to two hours a day for meals and brushing (or for a three-round boxing match!). That should give you plenty of time to take the aligner out, participate in a match, and put the aligner back on your teeth afterward. Just don’t wear the aligners for sparring or a real match, and you’ll avoid the risk of damaging them.

Bottom Line: Should You Box with Braces?

The decision on whether to box with braces will come down to each individual boxer (or a parent or guardian if you’re under 18). Some people just have a burning desire to compete, and we get it. Sitting out of the sport for two or three years for treatment with braces would be a huge loss for those people.

If you are going to box with braces, take the extra precautions listed above to avoid dental injury, damage to your face, and your expensive investment. Use Invisalign instead of braces if your orthodontist recommends it. And check with your local boxing association in case they have any different rules regarding braces and fighting.

Thomas Davies

Thomas has spent over a decade teaching and growing Boxing and MMA through his writing. His goal is to teach and inspire with the unique discipline & health benefits that combat sports can provide. More About Us.

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