An unexpected trauma or stress on your mouth can lead to injury to the teeth and the gums. It could cause fracture or teeth dislodge which may require immediate medical attention. Mouth injuries, whether as a result of biting a hard piece of food, accident or any other form of incidence, could lead to teeth being broken or dislodged. Luckily, there is a way to avoid all this and save you from complications. A mouth guard will do. These are thick plastic devices designed like a dental tray. They are shaped to resemble the shape of teeth and gum.
The mouth guard works as a barrier between the lower and upper teeth thus preventing injury in a situation of fall or any other unfortunate happenings that could lead to teeth injury, this is particularly important for those that suffer from teeth grinding. These devices are mostly used at night while asleep or by athletes especially in sports that involve collisions such as hockey, boxing and football, and you can check our dedicated guide here.
Importance of keeping your mouth guard clean
It goes without saying that anything that goes to the mouth needs to be clean. Failure to clean and take care of your mouth guard can make it messy really quickly. You may realize a yellow layer forming on the mouth guard. Those are contaminations and bacteria. You could also notice an awful smell coming from the mouth guard. All these can be avoided through proper mouth guard cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning and maintaining it will also ensure that it will serve you for an extended period thus saving you the cost of replacement.
What you need to clean your mouth guard
There are about five methods of mouth guard cleaning, and you will need to invest some items depending on which way you choose. Some of the things required for the discussed methods include:
- Warm water
- A mouth guard sanitizing device
- Natural products including lemon, lemon
How to clean and maintain your mouth guard
The following tips will ensure that your mouth guard remains in the best shape for many years to come.
Rinse after use
Every time you wear your mouth guard regardless of how long you had it, it gets to contact with saliva, and this is one of the things that make to wear. You should rinse it with warm water immediately after removing it as this helps in debris removal and any plaque that might have stuck on the device.
Scrub it with a toothbrush
After rinsing your mouth guard, brush it with your toothbrush, or you could have a separate toothbrush purposely made for cleaning a mouth guard. This method is highly recommended as it is effective and quick. However, when using the toothbrush toothpaste method, you ought to be careful with the kind of paste you choose. Some toothpaste is too harsh and could cause the plastic to tear.
Soap and water method
At times you can use soap and water especially when you want to be extra cautious. After rinsing the mouth guard after use, you may want to take an extra step. The cleanser helps in killing germs and improves the mouth guard sanitary. This method should be followed on a day to day basis but should be used in concurrence with other methods of cleaning like rinsing and scrubbing with a brush.
Use of a dental sanitizing device
These devices are conventional in the market and are known as an excellent choice for cleaning mouth guard. They are the best choice especially when the goal is to have a through mouth guard cleaning. It works by using ultraviolet or sonic for cleaning. You are probably feeling like this method is more expensive, and yes you are right. It is a bit costly than the other home DIY methods, but it is an investment that helps in increasing the lifespan of your mouth guard.
Use of cleaning tablets
One of the most common and effective ways of cleaning mouth guards is using cleaning powders and tablets. These products include denture cleaning tablets which are incredibly useful for sanitizing and removing any stains on the mouth device.
Natural cleaning methods
Other than the use of artificial devices to clean your mouth guard, you can implement other DIY natural plans which include; use of lemon and vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or soaking with bleach. However, before applying any of the products, consult your dentist as each product has its pros and cons and might not give you the kind of results you wanted.
Cleaning is not all you need to see your mouth guard in the right shape. You have to ensure that you are following the right steps and these include drying and storage. You should lay it on a clean surface and wait until it completely dries. This is to prevent any growth of bacteria. Wait for about 20-30 minutes.
The mouth guard should always be stored in a case when not in use. Some people opt to keep it in the bathroom forgetting that contraction of steam and humidity can cause it to warp. It is recommended that you store it in a dry environment like the bedroom.
How often should you clean your mouth guard?
As mentioned earlier, mouth guards should be cleaned immediately after use. However, the daily cleaning is not enough since at times you could be feeling tired, or you might be doing the cleaning in a hurry leaving some dirt traces. That is why a weekly deep cleaning is advisable. Make this a habit at least once a week. The deep cleansing includes putting in a bowl of water with denture cleaner. Let the cleaner dissolve in water before you deep the mouth guard.
The other broad cleaning method is the use of hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Soak the mouth device for about 30 minutes and later rinse it with clean, warm water and then allow it to dry.
The final deep cleaning method is the use of mouthwash and water mixture. Soak the mouth guard for 20 to minutes before rinsing it with clean, warm water. Wait for it to dry before storage.
The deep cleaning methods require patience. You should do them if you have enough time.
Sometimes it can be tempting to leave it soaked for a long time hoping that the longer you soak it, the better the results. Never let this get into your head while dealing with mouth guards. You should never leave it soaked for more than one hour since the liquid could end up damaging the mouthguard material.
Keeping your mouth guard case clean
Following all the cleaning steps can go to waste if you end up storing the mouth guard in a dirty case. Always keep the case clean, by hand washing it regularly with dishwashing detergent. Avoid high temperatures as it could melt. Leave the case to dry to avoid bacterial growth. The cases wear over time, and it is advisable to have a case replacement every six months.
Following the mentioned steps and methods promotes hygiene while increasing your mouth guard’s lifespan. However, it is not enough. If you want maximum results, try taking it to your dental appointments from time to time. Let the dentist inspect it for any signs of tear and at times, let the professionals clean it for you.