Protecting your teeth when it comes to sparring and/or professional fights is very important, as teeth are expensive to fix and the lack of dentists in the UK is becoming a real problem, therefore choosing the right gum shield is essential.
Gum shields come in different colours, shapes and qualities. The colour is really down to your personal preference. The real decision factors are the shape and quality. Gum shields fall into 3 categories: Budget, Middle Range and Custom Made.
Budget Gum Shields - offer minimum protection when it comes to sparring and should only be used for very light shots to the mouth and chin. Obviously you should be aiming not to take any shots to the head at all. However no one is perfect and you will get caught eventually.
The budget gum shield was the first gum shield I brought. It is moulded by putting the gum shield in hot water and then popping it into your mouth and biting down to mould it to the shape of your mouth. It may take several attempts to get the gum shield to fit the properly.
Middle Range Gum Shields - have built upon the traditional budget gum shields however they are several significant improvements: (1) small shock absorbers to cushion the impact to the jaw, (2) an air channel to allow breathing even when the teeth are clinched, and (3) a dental warranty to give piece of mind to the wearer. These gum shields are moulded in exactly the same way as the budget ones by using hot water and biting down on to the gum shield.
Custom Made Gum Shields - after losing my budget gum shield this was the next gum shield I went for and I still have it to this day. These gum shields are specially made by your dentist. The dentist will take a mould of your mouth and will use that to make the gum shield for you, because the gum shield is made from the mould it will be a perfect fit. The cost was £25 (10 years ago) and took approximately 2 weeks.
I would always choose a middle range or custom made gum shield. Each have their pros and cons. For Example, a middle range pad has shock absorbers and an air channel, where as a custom made gum shield would be a perfect fit to your mouth. If someone could come up with a hybrid between these two shields I think they would be onto a winner.