If you're learning any kind of fighting style, be it martial arts with a master or just rough housing in a dingy kickboxing gym, you need to protect your teeth during sparring by wearing a mouth guard. Easy enough if you have regular teeth, but things get a little complicated when you add braces to the mix.

Your mouth guard needs to protect your teeth from hits, your braces from displacement, and your lips and inside of the mouth from your braces.

Ways to Protect Your Mouth

Depending on the type of braces you have, you need to take care in choosing a mouth guard that protects the inside of your mouth from the metal and plastic in your braces, as you can get cuts, lacerations and irritations if you get hit too much or too forcefully. In time, you may end up developing callouses, or if you're unlucky, infections. If somehow your lips are sore even with a proper mouth guard covering the braces, a bit of dental wax over the braces should help pad the area and lessen the irritation.

It's best to choose a double mouth guard or even buy two if you don't have the budget for a double one. Fit one over the upper teeth and the other on the lower, and get used to sparring with limited airflow. On one hand, you might tire more easily, but on the other, you will have perfect breath control when you take out your braces and use a regular mouth guard.

Be careful when sparring to warn your partner that you're wearing braces. Especially dangerous are punches, especially cross punches and jabs near or to the mouth. These can easily displace your braces, break or move your palate expander, pop off a bracket or break a wire ligature. Uppercuts, however, are still fair game, so beware! Kicks are not as dangerous if they don't come near your mouth, but that requires either a very controlled partner or risking the rest of your head to the hit.

Your Orthodontist can fit your mouth guard or even recommend a special one that covers both the upper and lower teeth. Some unique mouth guards have ventilation channels and special medical-grade silicone to make up for the bulk of the braces and your teeth adjusting over time.

If you buy your own mouth guard, be careful what type of plastic it is – since you need to warm it up to have it mould over your denture, it might fuse with the elastic ligatures in your braces if they're poor quality. Ask your orthodontist about certain kinds before buying.

Remember – the best way to protect your teeth and braces is not to be hit at all. Get back to the gym and work your blocking skills and footwork and turn this "disadvantage" in a learning opportunity.