Mouthguard vs. Lip Guard: Choosing the Right Protection

Chris Perra

When it comes to protecting your teeth and mouth during sports or physical activities, mouthguards and lip guards are essential pieces of gear. While both serve the purpose of shielding your mouth, they differ in design and functionality. Understanding the distinctions between these two aids can help you make an informed decision about which one suits your needs best.

What is a Mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a flexible dental appliance primarily designed to protect your teeth, gums, lips, and tongue from injury during sports or activities that involve physical contact or the risk of falls. It typically covers the upper teeth and forms a protective barrier against impacts that could otherwise result in broken teeth, lacerations to the lips or tongue, or even jaw fractures.

Types of Mouthguards

1. Stock Mouthguards: These come pre-formed and ready to wear but may not provide the best fit.

2. Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards: Made from thermoplastic material, these are softened in hot water, then molded to fit your teeth.

3. Custom-Fit Mouthguards: Professionally made by a dentist based on an impression of your teeth, offering the most precise fit and protection.

What is a Lip Guard?

A lip guard, also known as a lip protector or mouthpiece, focuses specifically on shielding your lips from impact and injury. Unlike mouthguards, which cover the teeth and gums as well, lip guards are designed to prevent cuts, bruises, and swelling to the lips during sports or activities where facial impact is a concern.

Key Features of Lip Guards

- Lip Coverage: Lip guards typically extend over the lips to cushion and protect them from direct hits.

- Comfort: They are lightweight and often made from soft materials to ensure comfort during wear.

- Breathability: Many lip guards are designed with airflow channels to allow for easier breathing while wearing them.

Choosing Between a Mouthguard and a Lip Guard

Consider the Sport or Activity
- Mouthguard: Ideal for sports like football, hockey, rugby, or any activity with a high risk of dental injury.
- Lip Guard: Suitable for sports such as basketball, soccer, and martial arts where facial impact and lip injuries are more common.

Level of Protection Needed
- Mouthguard: Offers comprehensive protection for teeth, gums, lips, and tongue.
- Lip Guard: Focuses specifically on shielding the lips from cuts and bruising.

Personal Comfort and Fit
- Mouthguard: Custom-fit options provide the best comfort and protection but may be more expensive.
- Lip Guard: Generally more lightweight and breathable, with fewer fit issues compared to mouthguards.


Choosing between a mouthguard and a lip guard depends largely on the level of protection you need and the specific requirements of the sport or activity you participate in. While both are crucial for safeguarding your oral health, understanding their differences can help you make an informed decision. Whether you opt for a mouthguard for comprehensive dental protection or a lip guard for targeted lip coverage, prioritizing safety ensures you can enjoy your activities with confidence. Remember, consulting with a dentist or sports medicine professional can also provide valuable guidance in selecting the right gear for your needs.