When we play contact sports we should wear a mouthguard. This includes contacts sports like martial arts.
Mouthguards will not prevent an actual impact to the face, but they can greatly reduce the damage of an impact. It is the difference between a bad bruise and losing a tooth.
Martial arts is about impacts to the body and about avoiding impacts from others. This is more true of Taekwondo and Karate than many other martial arts, and more true of any martial arts over other sports. It makes sense to use a mouthguard to protect against high-head kicks and other potential impacts from your opponent.
Custom made mouthguards are a more expensive option, but they are almost always the most comfortable. Statistics suggest that there are fewer injuries with custom made mouthguards, but this may be because individuals are more likely to wear a mouthguard that is comfortable.
Dentists make custom mouthguards by taking a mould of the individual’s teeth. Make sure to specify that the mouthguard is for sports purposes, as dentist also make mouthguards for night breathing and as antisnoring devices.
Generic mouthguards are available for under $10.oo. Sometimes these will fit an individual well, but usually they are a compromise solution. It might be a good idea to keep one of these as a backup.
Hot mouldable mouthguards are another option. These moderately priced mouthguards will mould to the shape of your mouth after being inserted in hot water. They can be a fairly good fit.
Good breathing is essential for all sports, and for life in general. The correct way to breathe is through the nose. A mouthguard should make this type of breathing easier. Breathing through the mouth will reduce the nitric oxide in the body, which compromises performance. Mouth breathing is also bad for the teeth as it causes a dry mouth.