A mouth guard is designed to protect your teeth and can help you if you grind your teeth at night or participate in very intense sports. It is important to ensure that mouthguards are adequately cared for and maintained, although they can be extremely useful. For a healthy mouth, they must be constantly cleaned to prevent bacterial buildup. Here’s how you can take care of your mouth guard and prevent bacterial growth!
What are Mouth Guards?
Protecting teeth and maintaining good oral health are the goals of wearing a mouth guard. Mouth guards, also called night guards or sports guards, cover the top teeth and separate them from the bottom ones. Sleep bruxism, a condition that causes patients to grind or clench their teeth during sleep, can be helped with mouth guards. They are also used to treat temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). Mouth guards may also be worn during sports like football, hockey, and boxing to protect the teeth and jaw.
How to Keep Your Mouth Guard Clean
Your mouth guard sits in your mouth where teeth-rotting bacteria can grow, making it essential to keep it clean. Without cleaning, bacteria can multiply and cause tooth decay, gum disease, or bad breath. Keeping your mouth guard clean should therefore be part of your daily oral hygiene routine. In addition, it’s important to keep your guard clean to ensure that it lasts longer and stays in good condition!
#1: Rinse It after Each Use
If you remove your night guard or sports guard, you should immediately rinse it with warm water (not hot water). Cleansing with warm water removes dirt and prevents plaque buildup.
#2: Gently Brush It
After thoroughly rinsing your mouth guard, brush it gently with a soft toothbrush until the surface is clean. To prevent bacterial cross-contamination, clean your guard with a separate toothbrush from your teeth.
Avoid using hard toothbrushes and abrasive toothpaste on your guard, as they may cause it to wear out quickly. Instead, to clean your teeth daily, use antibacterial soap, such as a dish or Castile soap, or a non-abrasive toothpaste. Creating a paste with baking soda and water can also help remove debris and reduce foul odors.
Here are the steps to wash your mouth guard with a toothbrush:
- The first thing you should do is rinse your guard under cool water
- Brush with toothpaste, soap, or baking soda paste
- Brush gently
- With cool water, rinse off any toothpaste, soap suds, or baking soda
- Allow it to dry completely
#3: The Mouth Guard Must Dry Completely Before Being Stored in Its Case
You should never store your mouth guard while it is still wet. It needs to be completely air-dried before being stored in its case to prevent rapid bacterial growth. You should be able to completely dry your guard within 15-30 minutes if you lay it out on a clean, flat surface.
#4: Thoroughly Clean Your Mouth Guard Every Week
You should deep clean your mouth guard once a week. Several methods are available for deep cleaning your guards, but hydrogen peroxide and distilled white vinegar are recommended.
In order to clean with hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, follow these steps:
- Place your guard in a clean glass after rinsing it in cool water.
- Pour vinegar over it and let it soak for 30 minutes.
- Remove it from the water and rinse it again with cool water after it has soaked.
- Make sure to rinse the glass as well.
- Fill the glass with hydrogen peroxide and place the guard back inside.
- Let it soak for 30 minutes again.
- Allow the guard to dry completely before storing it by rinsing it with cool water.
Follow these easy steps for a quick deep clean of your guards every week!
For deep cleaning, you can use over-the-counter non-abrasive denture cleaning tablets if baking soda or hydrogen peroxide isn’t enough. It is not recommended to soak a night or sports guard in this denture cleaner for too long, as the process may damage or degrade it.
You can also use chemical mouthguard cleaners in tablet or powder form that dissolves in water. Fill a clean glass with lukewarm water, then add the tablet or powder. Rinse your guard with cool water after soaking it in the lukewarm water and cleanser solution for 5 to 10 minutes. Last but not least, let it dry.
#5: Keep It in a Clean Case
When not in use, store your mouth guard in a case to prevent damage. Many people tend to store their guards in their bathrooms, but over time, the steam and humidity in the bathroom can bend the guards themselves. Rather than keeping it in your bathroom, please keep it on your nightstand or bedroom and place it in a dry place away from extreme heat or cold.
How Long are Mouth Guards Supposed to Last?
Three main factors determine the life of your mouth guard:
- Your guard’s material
- Approximately how often you use it
- How well you care for it
Your guards should last for around five years if you take good care of them. As part of proper care, you should:
- After cleaning, let them dry completely
- Keeping them dry
- Air or water that is too hot should be avoided
You may need to replace your mouth guard yearly if you use it frequently. In contrast with custom-made mouth guards, OTC mouth guards wear out more quickly and can require replacement after a few months.
If your guard needs to be replaced, look out for the following signs:
- Defects like cracks
- Rips or tears
- There are holes
- Having a loose fit
- Decreased thickness
- The shape is deformed
- Irritates gums or teeth
- An unpleasant odor that persists
- A discolored appearance
During regular dental checkups, your dentist can tell if your mouth guard needs to be replaced due to excessive wear.
Start Your Orthodontic Journey at Patuxent Orthodontics!
Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if you think that mouth guards may be a solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of mouth guards or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free consultation! Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in California, Lexington Park, and Great Mills and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in MD, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health and follow us on social media to become a part of our smiling community!
- Nunez, Kirsten. “How to Clean Mouthguards: At Home, with Chemicals, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 2 Nov. 2020, www.healthline.com/health/how-to-clean-mouthguard. Accessed 12 Oct. 2022.
- “Bad Breath (Halitosis).” Healthline, Healthline Media, 7 Dec. 2020, www.healthline.com/health/bad-breath. Accessed 12 Oct. 2022.