Wearing a mouthguard is about much more than protecting your smile and expensive dental work. In fact, the primary purpose of a good sports mouthguard is to reduce the severity and frequency of concussions. When you take a hard hit in contact sports, whether it be a tackle or round-house to the temple, the force of the blow travels through your body and can ultimately rattle your brain so hard that it strikes the inside of your skull. This is when you receive a concussion. The best mouthguards for sports are designed to absorb as much of this force as possible, thereby reducing the likelihood that you will be concussed. Let's review some of the most popular athletic mouthguards on the market today to find out which ones are worth a look.

Shock Doctor Mouthguards

Possibly the best known guard for sale today, the shock doctor mouthguard is simple yet stylish, effective and affordable. It's a great starting place if you just want a simple, reliable mouthguard for playing contact sports. 

Shock Doctor Mouthguard for Contact SportsShock doctor guards have air-flow channels in place designed to make it easier to breathe when you are clenching your teeth during a game or fight.

Since our natural tendency is to tense up and bite down when we are exerting ourselves or bracing to take (or give) a big hit, these channels can make a big difference over the course of a single bout or quarter.

As anyone that's ever struggled with a traditional mouthguard knows, wearing one can sometimes feel like choking on a wet block of plastic. If you've had trouble breathing through your mouthguard before, check out Shock Doctor guards.

They start at $12.99 and are available in a wide variety of colors so you can match your team's uniform. You can also find them in strapped or strapless depending on whether or not you plan to clip your guard to your football helmet. Shock doctor mouthguards are a good choice for contact sports because of their simplicity and easy-breathing features. 

Brain-Pad Lo Profile Adult Combo Mouthguards

Next up in our contact sports mouthguard review is a guard known as the "Brain-Pad". This mouthguard is significantly higher profile than the Shock Doctors, despite the fact that it's referred to as being a "lo profile" option. You can tell just by looking at the Brain-Pad that it means business and that it incorporates more mass than a Shock Doctor.

Brain Pad Strapless Adult Combo Mouthguard

The Brain Pad guard is a fittable mouthguard, which means you'll need to boil it for a while and then fit it to your individual bite. You'll need to set aside some time to do this, because the brain-pad mouthguard is thick and its size throws some athletes off at first.

Taking your time while fitting it will pay off in the long run, and once you grow accustomed to this guard you'll find it provides a very snug and secure fit and good protection. 

The good news is that the brain-pad mouthguard also has generous breathing channels installed to help you suck wind faster and to prevent the famous drowning-in-your-mouthguard performance penalty.

Each guard comes complete with a hard-shell carrying case that is specially treated to kill microbes that could build up and make you sick. You should definitely check into the brain pad mouthguard if you're playing contact sports while wearing orthodontics like braces and brackets. There's plenty of plastic here to accomodate your wiring and still keep everything snug and secure. These guards will run you anywhere from $11.99 to $20. 

Tapout Mouthguards 

One of the better known contact sports mouthguards amongst the MMA crowd, you can see these bad boys in use everytime you watch a UFC match. Tapout mouthguards are lower profile than the brain-pad guards, so if you want something that doesn't take a couple of weeks to get used to, you might consider tapout guards. The best thing about tapout mouthguards is that you'll get two in the pack for the price of one, which is a great way to secure a back-up guard you can keep on you at all times. 

Tapout Official MMA Mouthguards

Tapout mouthguards are fittable, so they can be molded to your exact bite. Be aware that many owners complain of having to spend more time than usual to get their tapout guards to fit properly because they are extremely resistant to molding at the outset.

Be patient and spend some more time boiling them and working them into your facial profile and you will soon have a superior mouthguard for contact sports that will give you a long life of service and excellent defense against concussions. Tapout mouthguards are probably the most affordable of all popular sport mouthguards when you figure that a pack of two costs $7.99 to $20 depending on the day.

You never want to be caught without your mouthguard, so it's a good idea to have a spare one tucked away in your gear bag just in case. You can always pass one off to a friend, as well, or just go halfsies on a pack of two and each end up with a superior mouthguard for half the usual price.