8 Reasons Why Weightlifters Should Wear Mouthguards


If you work out, chances are you haven’t seen someone wear a mouth guard in the gym. This being said, many professional weightlifters and powerlifters have been known to wear mouth guards.

People used to think that mouth guards increase your strength, but today, we think a little differently. The main reasons for wearing a mouth guard in the gym are:

  • Cracking teeth during lifts
  • Grinding teeth while weightlifting
  • Preventing headaches
  • Protecting Jaw Muscles
  • Passing out during a lift
  • Improved breathing
  • Stress Relief
  • Thought to increase strength

When you lift a lot of weight, it’s natural to clench your teeth. If you don’t wear a mouth guard, you could bite hard enough to chip or crack them.

Sometimes, people also pass out when they are lifting a lot of weight. If you do, you can hit your jaw on the ground. Without a mouth guard, you’re at risk of hurting your teeth, tongue, and jaw.

If you’re interested in mouthguards for building strength, I highly recommend that you join 6 days of liftingOpens in a new tab., where you get lifting tips and advice for free, every day for 6 days. As I said, it’s free, and you’ll learn a lot about lifting. Check it out!

Mouth guards are commonly used by athletes performing in various types of sports and competitions. Popular beliefs tend to associate them only with violent sports, which involve fighting or hitting each other in action.

These include boxing, rugby, football, and even soccer. Some medical professionals tend to disagree and would advise you wearing a mouthguard in many other athletic sports.

They’re relatively cheap, and for something that protects your teeth, I think they’re worth it. You can grab one off of Amazon that’ll conform to your teeth to protect them, your jaw, and your tongue.

Any doctor would tell you to take the same precautions with weightlifting and powerlifting that you would with a contact sport.

Mouth Guards Can Improve Your Strength

Powerlifter putting in a mouth guard.

Yes, you heard me right. Wearing a mouth guard actually has the potential to make you stronger in the gym. A few decades ago, it was commonly thought that wearing a mouth guard can increase your strength.

You could walk into any bodybuilding gym, and it wouldn’t surprise you if you saw someone wearing one. While the popularity of that theory has died off recently, new research is making it look like they were right.

According to T-NationOpens in a new tab., a study from Marquette University found that simply clenching your jaws could increase your strength by as much as 10%. That figure was independent of mouth guards themselves, but weightlifters are more likely to clench their jaw like this when they’re protected by a mouth guard.

The study had participants do common exercises, with and without a mouth guard. They also added in gripping handles and doing the Valsalva movement.

If you don’t know, that’s when you push out with your lungs, but keep your airway closed. When they combined all three of these things, people in the study showed to be 15% stronger!

Those are some huge strength gains for nothing more than doing different things with their body. While wearing a mouth guard won’t do everything to make you stronger, it’s becoming clear that it can give you a significant boost, after all, becoming 10% stronger is nothing to scoff at.

If you’re looking for a quick muscle boost, a simple mouth guard might be your answer. Just remember not to rely on only that, and always work to make yourself stronger.

People also wear belts to get an easy boost in the gym. I wrote an article all about the benefits of wearing a lifting beltOpens in a new tab., check it out next!

In Case You Pass Out While Weightlifting

If you don’t know, sometimes lifters pass out while they’re doing a big liftOpens in a new tab. in the gym. This happens when you push your body so far that your heart can’t pump enough blood.

When this happens to your heart, your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. To protect itself, your brain shuts itself down temporarily, and you pass out.

There are some other factors to this, so if you’re interested, check out the article I linked to above. Passing out like this isn’t too dangerous on its own, and it happens to a lot of people in all sports.

This being said, when you’re in the gym, there are lots of other factors that can get you seriously injured. The main concern for this article is an injury in your mouth, and a few things can happen. If you pass out while you’re standing, you can fall and bite your tongue, and sometimes even bite it off. 

Wearing a mouth guard helps keep your teeth together, and not lose your tongue. Another common mouth issue is breaking your teeth. In the same scenario, you can fall, and have your teeth smash together.

This can break or shatter your teeth, and also possibly even break your jaw. Once again, wearing a mouth guard can prevent this. When you wear one, it gives you a layer of rubber protection between your sets of teeth.

This protection can save you thousands of dollars in dentist fees, as well as save you from pain if you happened to pass out in the gym.

Mouth Guards Improve Your Breathing (And Performance)

Boxer in the gym wearing a mouthguard.

I’ve mentioned it a few times already, but I’m going to go over it a little more in depth. When you’re lifting weights, a common thing that limits people is breathing.

You’ve probably been here; your muscles are fine, and you want to keep lifting, but you can’t get enough air into your lungs. When you’re this oxygen deprived, a mouth guard isn’t going to do much.

However, it can help you before you’re having this problem. Mouth guards can enhance your breathing by aligning your jaws, as well as your tongue, to get more air into your lungs.

If you wear a mouth guard while you’re working out, before you become gassed out, it can save you from going home early.

What is gassing outOpens in a new tab. you ask? It basically means what happens to your body when your muscles aren’t able to get enough oxygen, and it can end your weightlifting session early.

It impacts a lot of people, and if you want to learn more about it, check out the article I wrote, linked above. To be clear though, a mouth guard can’t stop you from getting gassed out.

Gassing out is more caused by your physical condition, rather than your breathing. This being said, A mouth guard can help you breath more, and in turn, feel better while you’re working out.

Avoid Cracking Your Teeth While Lifting

If you’ve ever hit a heavy lift, you might know that you’ll often clench your jaw while doing it. While this is a good way to relieve some of the stress the lift is causing in your body, there are some serious problems that can arise.

While everyone clenches their jaws from time to time, weightlifters can take it to the extreme. When you clench your teeth too hard, you put yourself at risk of cracking and breaking them.

If this happens to you, it’s not only costly but very painful. Aside from this, if you can’t afford to have them fixed, you can also experience an infection, which is even worse. Not only is that expensive, but even more dangerous to your health. Do yourself a favor, and just avoid cracking your teeth.

If you’ve ever cracked a tooth, you’d know that it’s something you want to avoid. Clenching your teeth while weightlifting is somewhat inevitable, and that’s where mouth guards come in.

Mouth guards create a layer of protection between your two sets of teeth, keeping them safe from cracks, chips, and general damage. If I’m being honest, most people won’t crack their teeth while they’re weightlifting. This being said, the risk is still there, and you could be the one that it happens to.

A huge aspect of weightlifting, bodybuilding, and powerlifting is safety, and wearing a mouth guard is just another cheap way for you to keep yourself safe, prevent injuries, and prevent a costly dentist visit.

They Stop You From Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth is another huge dental problem that millions of people experience. Whether you do it when you’re awake, or asleep without even realizing it, it’s one of the most common issues plaguing peoples teeth.

It also turns out that many weightlifters have a habit of grinding their teeth while they’re in the gym. I’ve even caught myself grinding them when I’m a bit stressed out while in the gym.

This isn’t as immediate of an issue as cracking your teeth, but over time, it can wear them down and cause them to be weak. Just like protecting your teeth from breaking, a mouth guard offers a protective layer to keep your teeth from grinding down over time.

Wearing one doesn’t just benefit weightlifters, however. Lots of people wear mouth guards to protect their teeth from grinding, especially at night.

If you ask your dentist about the benefits, and you have a habit of grinding your teeth, they’ll most likely recommend that you wear one. Not only can doing this harm your teeth, but also your jaw muscles, gums, bone structure, and even cause headaches.

As I said earlier, many people grind their teeth because of stress. Doctors don’t know the full story of why people grind them, but they have a few hunches. Many reasons are related to emotions, such as stress, anger, anxiety, and general tension.

When we’re in the gym, we often experience some of these emotions, intentionally putting our bodies under stress. Do your teeth, jaw, and head a favor, and wear a mouth guard.

Mouth Guards Prevent Headaches From Clenching Your Jaw

Fighter in the ring, wearing a mouthguard.

If you don’t know much about jaws, this might come as shock to you. Your jaws actually go pretty far up onto your head, not ending around your mouth.

Because of this, when you clench your jaws, it can lead to nasty headaches. As I’ve mentioned, many people clench their jaws together as a reaction to certain emotions.

All this clenching creates tension in your head and can cause chronic headaches. Another cause of this is jaw misalignment, like overbites or under-bites, but these aren’t related to weightlifting so I won’t cover those too much.

Wearing a mouth guard in the gym, and sometimes even at night, can help relieve all that tension in your jaw and head. Just like grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw can lead to long term problems.

Mouth guards can help to align your jaws to stop these headaches. Another benefit of wearing one is that when you clench your jaws, you won’t be directly pressing your jaws together. Mouth guards are made up of pieces of thin, resilient, rubber, or plastic, that guard your teeth and jaws against hurting each other.

This layer of rubber eases your teeth when they’re against each other so that when you clench your teeth, they aren’t pushing up right against themselves.

Mouth guards might not save your life, but they’re cheap and can save you from a lot of pain in and out of the gym.

Protecting Your Jaw Muscles From Injury

I’ve already been over this a few times, but lots of people clench and grind their teeth in the gym. Just like doing so can cause jaw bone issues, it can also cause muscle issues.

Muscle issues in your jaw can cause general pain as well as headaches, just like grinding your teeth can. A mouth guard can’t completely stop side effects from clenching your jaw in the gym.

When you’re working out and you clench your jaw, it’s usually a lot harder and for longer than throughout a normal day or when you’re asleep. A mouth guard does supply a level of protection, but they aren’t magical and they can’t do everything.

One of the best ways to prevent jaw muscle injury is to be conscious about your jaw while you’re working out. Weightlifting can be stressful, and cause you to tense lots of your muscles.

There’s not much you can do to avoid that, but try to catch yourself clenching your jaw. If you make an effort to do it less, you can save yourself time, money, and pain.

Doing this, combined with wearing a mouth guard, is your best bet for avoiding mouth injury and staying safe. I also can’t recommend wearing a mouth guard at night for everyone.

While they can be helpful for some people, they can mess up some people’s jaw alignment. This can lead to even more problems with your jaw, so it’s something you want to avoid. Wear a mouth guard while weightlifting all you want, but only wear one at night if your dentist recommends it.

Mouth Guards Relieve Stress in The Gym

Man weightlifting while wearing a mouth guard.

This one is a little less known, and it’s not preventing you from any injuries. As I’ve mentioned before, many people clench their jaws in reaction to certain emotions, like stress, anger, or anxiety.

This is normal and healthy, but after a certain extent, it can injure your teeth and jaw. A mouth guard comes in handy in this situation and can let you clench your jaw without as much worry.

After all, clenching your jaw is a natural reaction to stress, and can be a good way to relive it. Some people chew gum while they’re stressed, but others just clench their jaw, and might not even be aware of it.

Our bodies also have other natural responses to stress, like other muscles being clenched. Clenching your muscles is okay too, and if you do that, you’re less prone to injury than clenching your jaw.

If you’re a jaw clencher, you need to wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. Otherwise, in a few years, you might not have any teeth left to clench.

Mouth guards are great for the gym and can prevent almost every mouth related injury that occurs while weightlifting. Pick one up for just a few bucks, and avoid pain, injury, and payments to your dentist.

The Bottom Line

Overall, it’s pretty clear that mouth guards have pretty significant benefits for weightlifters. Increased strength and performance, reduced risk of injury, as well as stress relief and better breathing are all possible when you wear a mouth guard.

Be careful not to wear one too often though, or you might end up misaligning your jaw. Some people also wear a mouth guard at night, and this can be good too, but only do this if your dentist recommends it. 

Put simply, mouth guards are a cheap but effective way to increase your strength and be safer in the gym. You can get one for a few bucks online, or pay a lot more for one that’s custom fitted for you by a dentist. Either way, they’re sure to help you out.

As I’ve mentioned, clenching your jaw is a great way to relieve stress, and a mouth guard will protect your teeth as you do. Another benefit is protection from falling or passing out in the gym.

Without wearing a mouth guard, you could break your jaw, shatter your teeth, or bite your tongue. If you choose to wear one, however, you’re protected from all of those potential injuries.

If you’re serious about protecting yourself in the gym, pick yourself up a mouth guard, no matter the price level, and stay safe.

Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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