It is essential that you know how to clean your mouth guard to extend its longevity and boost your oral health. A mouth guard is a vital accessory that protects your teeth during high-impact sports or nighttime teeth grinding.
However, if you do not take good care of your mouth guard, it may not function effectively.
This article takes you through all you need to know about mouth guard cleaning by exploring:
- Reasons you should clean your mouth guard;
- Effective methods for cleaning a mouth guard;
- How often you should clean your mouth guard;
- Mouth guard materials and how they impact their cleanliness.
Why Should You Clean Your Mouth Guard?
Wearing mouth guards, such as NTI night guards, might help with problems such as teeth grinding. However, dental experts caution that failure to clean them regularly might be the onset of other oral problems. But why exactly should cleaning your mouth guards be a priority?
Here are the top reasons why you should clean your mouth guard:
Improve oral hygiene
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, mouth guards are porous. This means they harbor large numbers of bacteria, yeasts, and mold, which could lead to health-threatening infections.
Moreover, these products provide a great place for hiding bacteria and food debris. If not cleaned regularly, mouth guards can increase your risk of gum disease or other oral infections.
It is vital to learn how to clean mouth guards to remove the bacterial plaque and debris lodged within them, hence preventing oral health concerns and improving your dental health.
Mouth guards offer a safe place for bacteria to flourish, and if not removed through regular cleaning, the mouth guard can develop an unpleasant odor. This is caused not just by the bacteria but also by the trapped food particles.
Knowing how to clean your mouth guard thoroughly enables you to eliminate these odor-causing agents, ultimately giving you a fresh and pleasant experience whenever you wear your mouth guards.
Just like with any other dental appliance, the proper maintenance of a mouth guard can significantly extend its lifespan.
Regular cleaning helps prevent the buildup of stains, tartar, and plaque, which could potentially deteriorate the quality of the mouth guard over time.
Moreover, these factors also affect the mouth guard’s appearance, making it unusable after just a short period. However, with regular cleaning, you ensure its longevity and eventually save on money that would have been used for replacements.
A poorly maintained mouth guard may not offer optimal performance. For instance, if you use a mouth guard to protect your teeth during sports, a poorly maintained mouth guard may affect your ability to breathe properly, leading to reduced endurance.
However, when the mouth guard is clean, you can focus on the game without distractions. The same applies to those that use mouth guards when sleeping. Poorly maintained mouth guards are known to reduce the quality of sleep.
Effective Methods for Cleaning a Mouth Guard at Home
Cleaning your mouth guard for optimal oral health and performance is not daunting, as you can do so without depending on any complex cleaners. You can achieve this by using readily available products at home.
Here are a few simple but effective ways to clean your mouth guard:
You can clean your mouth guard every day the same way you brush your teeth. You can use a soft bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste when doing so. Using toothpaste gives your mouth guard a deep clean with a fresh scent.
Here are a few steps that you can take when cleaning your mouth guard with toothpaste:
- Begin by rinsing your mouth guard in cool water.
- Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush.
- Start scrubbing all surfaces of the mouth guard with the toothbrush.
- Ensure to pay extra attention to the crannies, if any.
- Rinse the mouth guard under warm running water once done brushing.
- Let the mouth guard air dry before storing it in its protective case.
It is important to use a separate toothbrush from the one you use to avoid cross-contamination. Moreover, using mild toothpaste is a recommended method for cleaning kids mouth guards, as using other chemical-based strategies may not be safe for them.
Using soap and water
Using soap and water has been tried and approved by dental practitioners as an effective way to clean your mouth guard. Moreover, it is also a fast and readily available option.
To use soap and water, here are a few simple steps to follow:
- Rinse your mouth guard in cool water.
- Apply a small amount (or a drop) of soap to the mouth guard.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush the mouth guard until it is soapy.
- Rinse with warm running water to remove all the suds.
- Let it air dry before storing it in a protective casing.
Use mild and alcohol-free soap so as not to damage the mouth guard.
Here’s a quick video from Dr. Gary Michaelson to guide you on how to use a toothbrush when cleaning your mouth guard:
Mouthwash is known for its antimicrobial properties, making it ideal for cleaning mouth guards.
Here’s the recommended technique for using mouthwash to clean your mouth guards:
- Rinse the mouth guard with water.
- Add a capful of antibacterial mouthwash in a separate container.
- Dilute with water until there’s enough liquid to cover the mouth guard fully.
- Place the mouth guard in the container, and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove and rinse with water.
- Let it air dry before securely storing it.
Dental experts recommend that you only use alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid damage. Moreover, you must ensure to dilute the mouthwash as recommended.
Using baking soda
Baking soda is an ideal solution for removing debris and odor from mouth guards. Baking soda is known to remove stains and eliminate unpleasant odors when used.
It is best used when the mouth guard has undergone some neglect or become filthy due to poor cleaning habits. Moreover, it is also an affordable option, making it ideal for regular home use.
If you want to get your mouth guard looking as good as new, here are simple steps to follow when cleaning it with baking soda:
- Put baking soda and water in equal parts in a clean bowl and mix well to form a paste.
- Dip a soft bristle toothbrush into the paste and use it to gently brush the mouth guard.
- Once done, rinse the mouth guard with cool running water.
- Let it air dry before storing it safely.
Using hydrogen peroxide and vinegar
A hydrogen peroxide and vinegar solution offers a much deeper clean. Moreover, both ingredients are natural and may not be corrosive or damage the mouth guard.
When using hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, you use them separately and do not mix. Essentially, you first soak the mouth guard in vinegar before repeating the same for hydrogen peroxide.
This is a process you can do once in a while, and not as regularly as cleaning with toothpaste or soap. However, this process is ideal for night guard with braces, as people with braces often get more bacteria lodged within their mouths.
Here’s a quick guide on how to use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar to clean your mouth guard:
- Rinse the mouth guard in cool water.
- Place the mouth guard in a clean glass and add enough vinegar to cover it. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Remove and rinse the mouth guard with cool water. Ensure to rinse the glass too.
- Place the mouth guard in the glass and add hydrogen peroxide until it is covered. Let it sit for another 30 minutes.
- Once done, remove the mouth guard and rinse it with water.
- Let it air dry before putting it in storage.
Here’s a quick video from SportingSmiles on how to use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar to clean your mouth guard:
Rinse with water
Rinsing your mouth guard with clean water after each use is a helpful and fast method to keep it clean. Assuming you use your mouth guard more than once a day or in intervals, it is important to clean it using water whenever you remove it from your mouth.
Is It Safe to Clean My Mouth Guard Using Chemicals?
You can use chemical-based cleaners for your mouth guard that are approved for such products. For instance, you can opt for over-the-counter (OTC) non-abrasive denture cleaner, which you can use to maintain your mouth guards.
Although some of the best brands, like Pro Teeth Guard, are quite durable, avoiding harsh and alcohol-based products is essential, as they may damage the mouth guard’s material. Moreover, such cleaners may pose health risks, so you should only stick to mild cleaning solutions that dental professionals recommend.
Furthermore, most OTC denture cleaners have synthetic scents and dyes. If you are concerned about these, you may opt for more natural solutions.
How Often Should You Clean Your Mouth Guard?
There are three different instances that you may consider cleaning your mouth guard. All these instances dictate the method used to clean them.
For starters, it is important to clean your mouth guard after every use. In this case, plain water removes saliva, debris, and food particles.
It is also advisable to clean your mouth guard at least once a day with toothpaste or soap. This also helps remove the bacteria lingering around and eliminate foul odor.
You should also conduct a deep clean for your mouth guard at least once a week to eliminate bacteria and prevent plaque buildup. You can achieve this by soaking the mouth guard in a denture cleaner, mouthwash, or vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.
Does the Mouth Guard Material Matter?
Most mouth guards are made out of silicone or plastic. There are various types of materials used, such as EVA and Acrylic. These materials are sturdy and soft, ensuring effectiveness and comfort when wearing mouth guards. The best TMJ mouth guards, for instance, are known to be quite soft yet very effective.
But do these materials matter when cleaning them?
The material used in mouth guards does not really matter. This is because you can use all types of cleaning methods on any material of mouth guard without damaging them, as long as you follow the correct instructions.
However, it would be prudent to exercise additional caution when using thermoplastic mouth guards, as they may warp when cleaned with hot water.
Yes, you can clean a mouth guard using soap. However, use only mild, non-abrasive soap that cannot damage the mouth guard.
If you don't wash your mouth guard regularly, harmful bacteria can accumulate on its surface. This can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and potential infections. Failing to clean your mouth guard can also result in a foul odor, deteriorated material, and reduced effectiveness in providing protection.
It is recommended to wash your nightguard after every use and at least once a day with toothpaste or soap. A deep clean of the nightguard is essential at least once a week with vinegar or a denture cleaner to eliminate plaque and bacteria that may have accumulated over time.
Some mouthwashes can help disinfect a mouth guard to a certain extent due to their antimicrobial properties. However, mouthwash alone may not effectively eliminate all types of bacteria and germs. It is important to combine it with regular brushing and occasional soaking with a cleaning solution.