For competitive fighters, getting punched in the mouth is an inevitability—it’s pretty difficult to score a knockout without aiming for the jaw. Fighting and other high-contact sports like football and hockey require a mouthguard to protect the teeth, lest they sport a jack-o-lantern smile.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in particular has been looking for ways to optimize their fighters’ mouthguards, and with good reason: they’re subjected to all manner of punches, kicks, and rough treatment that threatens to leave them toothless. As a result, their approach to mouthguard design must be able to take very high impact into account.
For that reason, UFC announced a partnership with custom mouthguard company GuardLab to provide their athletes 3D-printed mouthguards based on a custom mouth scan.
In order to make the best fit for each individual athlete, GuardLab uses digital 3D scanning to get a picture of the specific topography of the mouth. Bite position is then optimized using what the company calls ARC (Alignment Repositioning Cushion) technology This allows jaw alignment and repositioning, correcting muscle imbalances, improving neuromuscular response, and increasing oxygen intake. Finally, a 3D printer spits out the final result, a perfect-fit mouthguard that both minimizes impact force and leaves plenty of room for the fighter to breathe.