I’m sure I’m not alone in my surprise when watching the power behind combat sports striking. Seeing these hits has always instilled a morbid curiosity about whether MMA fighters and boxers lose teeth.

MMA fighters and boxers do lose teeth. However, thanks to the use of safety equipment, lost teeth are rare. Most MMA fighters and boxers retire with all their teeth in place. Mouthguards take most of the credit for the rarity of lost teeth in combat sports.

Fighters may not lose their teeth often, but there are still a few examples we can look at. In this article, we’ll also look at how combat sports athletes take precautions to avoid lost teeth. Let’s dive into the intricacies around how MMA fighters and boxers lose teeth!

How Do MMA Fighters and Boxers Avoid Lost Teeth?

MMA fighters and boxers avoid lost teeth by taking advantage of a mouthguard. Athletes use mouthguards commonly in several contact sports, including MMA fighting, boxing, and even hockey.

What Is a Mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a mold that creates a layer of protection for your teeth and gums. Most modern over-the-counter mouthguard manufacturers use ethylene vinyl acetate to make mouthguards.

How Does a Mouthguard Work?

The mouthguard works as a barrier between your teeth. This barrier disperses the impact of heavy hits. A spread impact means fighters experience a softened blow and teeth don’t take the burden of impact. Overall, using a mouthguard helps keep your teeth intact and in your gums.

According to Custom Denture Clinic, the softened blow prevents loss of teeth, concussions, and jaw injuries.

Choosing the Right Mouthguard

Our mouthguard of choice is the GuardLab Apex Mouthguard (available on Amazon.com). Professional fighters have been trusting GuardLab mouthguards since 2017, so you can trust them too.

Most amateur athletes prefer over-the-counter mouthguards for convenience. However, Professional fighters use custom-fit mouthguards to achieve the best possible protection.

How To Use a Mouthguard

You may notice your mouthguard doesn’t have a snug fit right out of the packaging. Don’t worry! Mouthguards rarely fit perfectly out of the packaging. All you have to do is mold your mouthguard to fit your mouth:

  1. Check if your mouthguard fits. Simply place your mouthguard in your mouth and see how it fits. If your mouthguard pokes the back of your mouth, you’ll need to give it a trim.
  2. Trim a small piece off both ends of your mouthguard. Using scissors, trim off about a half-centimeter from both ends of your mouthguard. You can check the fit of your mouthguard again and trim it again as needed.
  3. Boil some water in a pot. Grab a small pot and boil enough water to fully submerge your mouthguard. Alternatively, you can also heat water for 4 to 5 minutes in a microwave.
  4. Place your mouthguard in the heated water. Allow your mouthguard to sit for approximately 30 seconds.
  5. Remove your mouthguard from the water. Allow your mouthguard to cool down for about 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Quickly use your tongue and fingers to fit the mouthguard to your top teeth. Fit your mouthguard to your top teeth and bite down with your bottom teeth.
  7. Suck the water from between your teeth and mouthguard. Sucking the water out will help fit the mouthguard more snugly with your teeth.
  8. Place your mouthguard in cool water to set the shape permanently. You can keep your mouthguard in a bowl of cool water for 30 seconds to solidify your mouthguard’s shape.

Once you’ve got your mouthguard molded to your mouth, the hard part is over. All you have to do now is place your mouthguard over your top teeth when participating in any contact sport.

5 Fighters Who Have Lost Teeth

It’s important to note that amateur fighters take on most lost teeth. This is typically because they’re more likely to participate in friendly backyard fights amongst friends. These kinds of backyard fights are responsible for most lost teeth because no refs are enforcing necessary safety regulations.

However, despite having mouthguards available, a handful of famous fighters have lost teeth during a match. 

Randy Couture

Randy Couture took a crane kick from Lyoto Machida in UFC 129. The result of Couture taking this kick was a knockout and Couture’s tooth flying into the octagon.

This brutal kick was the end cap for Couture’s fighting career. I can’t blame him. I would have a tough time walking back in the ring too, after that kind of haymaker kick.

Devin Clark

Devin Clark took some monstrous hits from Ion Cutelaba during UFC Vegas 37. Clark took two upward knee hits to the jaw within just a handful of seconds at the end of round 2.

As a result of these knees, Clark’s front three bottom teeth pushed out of line. ESPN MMA tweeted out the picture. Fair warning, the aftermath is not pretty to look at.

Cutelaba’s upward knee hits are standard amongst loss teeth injuries. The most common hit that causes lost teeth is an uppercut.

Britain Hart

Britain Hart lost her tooth in a bare-knuckle boxing match against Paige VanZant. Uniquely, Britain Hart won the fight against VanZant despite her missing tooth.

Hart’s fight with VanZant was not her first lost tooth through her combat sports career. Hart also suffered a lost tooth back in 2019 in a fight against Bec Rawlings.

Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith’s fight with Glover Teixeira resulted in Smith picking up his teeth from the octagon floor. After losing the first tooth, Smith reported that his mouthguard would no longer fit correctly.

Smith’s mouthguard misalignment led to a snowball effect of lost teeth and other injuries. By the end of the fight, Smith had lost several teeth along with a broken orbital bone and a broken nose.

Take Anthony Smith’s story as a word of caution. If your mouthguard comes out during a fight, stopping the fight will prevent further injuries.

Leon Spinks

If you’re new to the sport of boxing, you may have never heard of Leon Spinks. Leon Spinks received a gold medal from the 1976 Olympics. Spinks also took the heavyweight champion title from Muhammed Ali in 1978.

Before Spinks was fighting professionally, he was a member of the marines. While training boxing as a Marine, Spinks took a hit to the face. This nightmare hit took out several of Spinks’ teeth.

Notably, Leon Spinks’ experience of losing teeth is not uncommon. Most dental injuries caused by boxing do not occur in a professional octagon.

Final Thoughts

There are MMA fighters and boxers who lose teeth throughout their career. However, most fighters leave their time in the octagon with all their teeth in place.

The rarity of fighters losing their teeth is all due to mouthguards. Thanks to the mouthguard, athletes are better protected from lost teeth, concussions, and many other dental injuries.

If you plan to participate in any contact sports, be sure to get yourself a mouthguard beforehand. Keep your shiny teeth in your mouth by using this simple piece of safety equipment.

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