Do Goalkeepers Wear Mouth Guards? - Should You?

Do Goalkeepers Wear Mouth Guards? – Should You?

The most honest answer to the question of, “do goalkeepers wear mouth guards?”, is some do and some don’t. There’s no way that it could be said that no goalkeepers wear mouth guards. It is true though that the goalkeepers that do wear mouth guards are in the minority. There are actually clear reasons for this. Even though, there’s an argument to be made that wearing a mouth guard as a goalkeeper can without a doubt provide an extra layer of safety for you. What I want to do in this article is lay out some of the benefits that you can have with wearing a mouth guard as a goalkeeper. I’m also going to talk about why most goalkeepers don’t wear one. The idea is to help goalkeepers balance out the pros and cons. 

Let’s get to the reasons why you don’t see a lot of pros goalkeepers wearing mouth guards. It really comes down to the fact that it’s uncomfortable to talk with a mouthpiece on. That’s the first reason why goalkeepers go ahead and forgo wearing one. What you would need to do is remove the mouthpiece when you wanted to talk. Then you would have to stick it back in with your gloves on. That’s going to make the gloves fill with spit. That’s not the worse thing in the world let’s be honest about that. The taste in your mouth that you’d be left with after a long game would be an interesting to say the least.     

How Uncomfortable Is Wearing A Mouth Guard?  

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That’s going to depend on a variety of factors. The number one thing that you need to do is make sure that you shape the mouth guard accordingly to ensure that it fits your mouth the right way. If you don’t get this process done right then just wearing the mouth guard is going to be a problem. In fact, you may not be able to obtain many of the benefits that you’re looking for in the first place since it doesn’t fit right. I’ll get back to this topic in a bit though, because I want to address what it’s like wearing a mouth guard as a goalkeeper. 

There are essentially two ways to go about this. Either you try your hardest to make sure that you’re understood with the mouth guard on, or you take it off to talk to your players, and then put it back on. Let’s not sugarcoat it here, this whole process of removing, and putting it back in with your goalkeeper gloves on is one that could seem gross for some goalkeepers. Plus, you’re using your gloves that could be filled with dirt and things like that. 

That part of the equation can certainly make this idea of using a mouth guard uncomfortable. There’s an argument to be made that for example American football players also have their hands dirty, and we see them put in a mouth guard and take it back out. That is true, but you have to remember American football is not on going active game you have more down moments where you could wash the mouth guard, and things like that.    

What Are The Actual Benefits of Wearing A Mouth Guard?

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For the most part mouth guards are going to be protecting your teeth. There are claims that mouth guards can also reduce the risk of severe injuries like a broken jaw. There have of course been instances in which athletes break their jaw even with a mouth guard in. According to certain reports though, when it comes to teeth injuries athletes are 60 times less likely to develop them when wearing a mouth guard. These studies have been disputed, but it’s pretty logical to think that added protection in the area is going to reduce the risk of injury. Even if you’re not completely on board with the idea that you’re 60 times less likely to develop an injury. 

If the numbers are so positive when it comes to wearing a mouth guard why don’t we see literally all goalkeepers wearing them? This is a debate that comes up virtually all added protection options that goalkeepers have. These days we have the option to wear helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and even padded jerseys. Yet, most of the pro goalkeepers that you’ll see on TV will still be wearing minimal protection if you will. I don’t know of a logical way to explain this so, I’m going to try and throw it out in goalkeeper terms. 

Most goalkeepers would rather avoid the distraction of wearing a mouth guard and risk losing a tooth, than wearing one. Is that a dumb idea? That’s a hard question to answer, because I understand being out on the field, and not wanting any distractions. I also understand parents saying you’re either wearing this or you’re not playing.        

How Much At A Risk Of Injury Are You As A Goalkeeper If You Don’t Wear A Mouth Guard? 

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It’s really hard to calculate the likelihood of getting kicked in the face as a goalkeeper. What I would certainly say is that it does happen. It’s happened to me, and virtually all of the goalkeepers that I know. Oddly enough we are not a gapped tooth bunch like maybe hockey goaltenders tend to be. There’s probably a reason for that, and it has to do with unwritten rules in soccer. Players will for the most part lighten up their pursuit for the ball when you’re clearly in control. Although getting hit in the face with a hard shot does hurt it usually doesn’t bring forth massive consequences. Particularly when it comes to things like losing teeth which is what goalkeepers wear mouth guards to prevent.  

What I would say is that we do see more kicks in the face in some of the youth games. I know that seems rather odd, but I would probably have to go back to my youth days to remember the last time that I was literally kicked in the face while in goal. Sure, as you get older there are more bumps and bruises, but usually they are not intentional. As I mentioned, there’s essentially that unwritten rule that you’re not going to slide cleats first into the goalkeepers face. In the youth game though some of the youngsters have yet to learn these unwritten rules! They could be more at risk, and therefore it makes more sense to have younger goalkeepers wear a mouth guard.    

Is It Worth It To Give It A Shot?

Do Goalkeepers Wear Mouth Guards? - Should You?

I would certainly think so. I usually recommend to parents that if you want to get your kids to wear certain types of padding or anything like that you have to start young. That’s the best way to be able to get used to something as part of your outfit. At the end of the day one of the best benefits that we have as goalkeepers is the fact that we get a chance to craft our own outfit. If getting hurt, or specifically getting a tooth knocked out is something that you’re worried about then going out and getting a mouth guard is certainly something that would make a lot of sense.  

What happens if you’re not so young, but maybe you’re coming off an injury, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? I would just say that you have to get through the first couple of moments when it may be uncomfortable or even gross. You know because you’ll have to keep taking off the mouth guard to talk to defenders. If you’re thinking about adding a mouth guard to your outfit in this sense, do it as quickly as you can don’t overthink. The more you put off this idea that you have then the less likely it is that you’ll actually go through with it. There’s certainly an adjustment period, but after that you may say to yourself, how did I ever play without one?   

What Type of Mouth Guard Should Goalkeepers Look To Use? 

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Most mouth guards out there today are pretty much the same thing. They may not all be the same quality, and that’s something that you may want to look into. In fact, if you have an issue with your teeth already it may be a good idea to ask your dentist about the type of mouth guard that you should be wearing. In any case, what they’ll probably say is that you need to get a mouth guard that you’re able to do adapt to your mouth. With most of these options what you boil the mouth guard, then you wait a tiny bit so you don’t burn yourself. Then you bite down on the mouth guard to be able to create the unique couture of your teeth. 

Mouth guards are not overly expensive so if you’re not sure that you’re going to be able to make it right the first time around you may want to buy a couple. The other, potentially safer option is again going to your dentist to have them craft one for you. Maybe not all dentists are going to be open to the idea, but it can’t hurt to ask right? From research that I’ve done for this article plus personal experience I would say you need to replace your mouth guard about every 6 months. If you’re totally grossed out by it by the third month just change it out! You want the mouthpiece to protect you, but you also want to make sure that you feel comfortable wearing it!   

Some Of The Things To Watch Out For If You Do Want To Use A Mouth Guard

Panama goalkeeper spitting on gloves

Throughout the whole piece I’ve been saying that the problem for goalkeepers is that you’re going to end up eating a lot of grass and dirt. Sure you could put some water on the mouth guard, and hope for the best, but in an active game like soccer it’s hard to find the time to clean it out diligently. If you are going to be choosing to wear a mouth guard you’d do well to get a sense for how to put it on, and off quickly. 

That’s going to allow you to not feel the pressure to know what to do with it if you remove it maybe at a bad time. You also better get kind of used to that taste of dirty goalkeeper glove. Even if you get the thing wet you’re going to be tasting the glove more often than not. All that may not be overly ideal. You could develop different types of ailments from this. 

Do Goalkeepers Wear Mouth Guards Conclusion  

So, do goalkeeper wear mouth guards? The truth is most don’t as I said at the very begging of the article. Some of the issues that we just talked about in the last paragraph are essentially the main reasons why most goalkeepers don’t wear them. There’s a sense that you’re more likely to develop some type of infection in your throat, mouth or whatever it may be than you are of getting kicked in the face and losing a tooth. As I’m writing this I know that a lot of people are going to find the conclusion outrageous. Just looking at some plays that we see every single day at all levels of football you could make the argument that getting kicked in the face as a goalkeeper is not that unlikely.  

I would actually agree, the conclusion that I talked about earlier is the one that most goalkeepers come to. If you have a young kid, and you’re worried about their safety a mouth guard is potentially something that you’re going to want to look into. As I said before starting them young with this type of equipment is the best way to make sure that they’ll keep using it as they get older. Also, kids can be a bit more careless than adults at times. So your young goalkeeper may very well be more at risk of getting kicked in the face in the early stages of his career than he’ll be later on!