What is the difference between boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves?
Boxing gloves are made just for boxing. Muay Thai gloves are crafted for a more specific purpose like checking kicks (extra padding on the edges to protect your hand) and also for a clinch/neck wrestling which is an important part of Muay Thai and you will not find it in boxing.
What should I do my first time sparring in Muay Thai?
Don’t be too tense and you’re going to do just fine. In Muay Thai the Flow of the fight is very important. And remember that in Muay Thai sparring is a main tool of learning. So unless if you’re preparing for a semi/pro fight it doesn’t matter whether you dominate in the ring or not as long as you’ll learn something useful.
Are we talking about a full-power sparring or a (~30% power) technical sparring? With technical sparring, headgear is not necessary
if it is a full-power sparring another question is how advanced are you?
Are you able to block/deflect or evade most of the strikes or do you get punched in the face all the time?
And the last question is: why are you training? Are you training for fun/to get fit or maybe you want to compete on semi-pro or on pro-level?
If you are training Muay Thai just for fun then you can wear a headgear all the time if you want.
If you want to compete though, removing a headgear and having a full-power sparring will be a great test for your skills and reflexes and on how much you can take before you go down.
Is it possible to spar without any long term injuries?
Sure it is. In Muay Thai there are two types of sparring:
a regular sparring
a technical sparring
Technical sparring serves a purpose of learning and polishing certain technical skills and it is not a full power sparring. And a regular sparring lets you check your skills against an opponent.
Furthermore, you can divide regular sparring into two categories (both full contact):
a full power sparring
a light sparring
If you still want to do a full power sparring to minimize the risk of an injury you should wear a protective gear like headgear and shin pads
And also your opponent should wear elbow pads so you won’t get a nasty cut on your face or your forehead.