So, you’ve got a night guard, but are not sure how to clean it. No worries, follow the simple steps below and soon you will have a shining bite guard ready to be used again.
Simple Instructions for cleaning a mouth guard
- Rinse the night guard with warm water as soon as it is removed from your mouth.
- Brush the dental device gently with a soft or medium toothbrush.
- Let it dry. Place your bite guard on a hard surface and let it dry completely.
- Store your device in a dry case.
Now, let us expand a little bit on the above instructions.
Rinsing your mouth guard with warm water will help remove larger food debris as well as loosen some plaque. It is important to rinse it as soon as you remove it, so bacteria does not start building up. Also, food debris can begin to smell and deteriorate on the surface of the night guard. Trust me, you do not want this!
Brushing the night guard will help eliminate the rest of the debris and plaque. You can use your regular toothbrush, or get a separate one. The choice is yours. We recommend you use a soft or medium brush in order to prevent possible damage to the dental guard.
NOTE: We do not recommend using toothpaste on the brush. Most pastes contain abrasive ingredients that can speed up the wearing out of your night guard. In some cases, they can even cause further scratching to it and; therefore, reduce its life.
Drying your mouth guard before sorting it out is essential to prevent bacteria build up. We always recommend leaving the guard on a flat and dry surface for 15-20 minutes. Also, we advise against placing the night guard on a napkin or any kind of paper that may already contain dirt or bacteria.
In this sense, you can use a clean plate or plastic container for the drying period.
Why store your mouth guard in a case?
Isolation is key to preventing moist or bacteria build-ups. Leaving your night guard on top of your bathroom shelf is never a good idea. Bathrooms are consistently steamy and humid and can cause your guard to warp quickly.
Instead, keep your guard in its designated container (they all come with one) somewhere in your bedroom or living room. Whichever one you think is less humid.
Deep Clean Your Mouth Guard Once a Week
The above instructions are for cleaning your dental guard every day. However, if you want to follow our best practices, you have to perform deep cleaning once a week.
There are three ways you can do this quickly and efficiently in order to assure good oral hygiene.
Use an over-the-counter denture cleaner. Check your local drug store and look for tablets or ready mixtures that dissolve in water. Fill up a glass with warm water, dissolve the tablet and soak your night guard for 20 minutes or so. Most denture cleaner products have easy to follow instructions on the back of the package. It is important not to soak the guard for longer than it is recommended.
Use a mix of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Use a regular glass and fill it up with distilled vinegar. Soak the mouth guard for up to 30 minutes. Try not to exceed that time limit.
After soaking, remove the night guard and rinse it with water. Do the same for the glass or bowl that you used. Now, fill up the same container with hydrogen peroxide and soak the guard for another 30 minutes. Once the time is up, remove the guard and wash it with warm water.
This second method takes longer, but it will completely remove bacteria and plaque from your dental device.
Use mouthwash and water. This is the final frontier when it comes up to deep cleaning your dental guard.
Use 30-40ml of any respectable mouthwash and mix it up with a cup of water. You should end up with a 250-300ml worth of mixture. Once the mouthwash is fully diluted, soak the night guard in and leave it there for 30 minutes.
Once you remove the device from the mix, rinse it and leave it to dry on a flat and clean surface.
NOTE: Do not leave your night guard soaking in any kind of mix for more than one hour. Saliva and water are pretty much the only liquids that mouth guards are meant to be for extended periods of time. Other liquids (especially chemical ones) can harm the device.
Keep a Clean Case
All mouth guard manufacturers include cases specifically designed for their products. These cases are not just a fancy way of presenting the product, but a necessary tool for preserving your dental guard.
Never neglect your case! Keeping your designated mouthguard storage clean, is just as important as cleaning your actual mouth guard. Bacteria does not discriminate when it comes up to places and locations. It will build up anywhere at any time if you are not taking preventative measures.
Wash the case every few days with water and dishwashing detergent. Make sure you rinse it well, so your night guard doesn’t taste like a detergent when you place it in your mouth.
Most plastic cases are good for 8 months or so. After that period of time, they begin to wear out. However, by that period of time, most mouth guards would already have served their purpose.
Check It, Before You Wreck It
Make it a routine practice to check your night guard at least once a week for damage. No matter how durable the guard, excessive clenching and grinding of the teeth will eventually wear it out. In any case, better damage the bite guard then your teeth and jaw muscles!
If you are buying an over-the-counter dental guard, make sure you take it to your dentist for inspection. Besides getting additional professional advice from your dentist, he or she should be able to determine if the guard fits well in your mouth.
NOTE: Do not be stingy when it comes to your oral health. If the mouth guard has damage, just replace it. It is not worth to let your jaw suffer the consequences.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.