how to clean your night guard or mouth guard

This article has been checked and updated for accuracy on 12/21/23

What Is the Best Way to Clean a Mouth Guard or Night Guard?

Cleaning your mouth guard is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your mouth guard:

Step 1: Rinse

Remove Loose Debris

After using your mouth guard, rinse it thoroughly with cool water. This step eliminates loose debris, saliva, or any particles accumulated during use.

Step 2: Brush

Gentle Cleaning

Using a soft toothbrush and mild soap (e.g., Dr. Bronners), gently brush the mouth guard surfaces. Ensure thorough cleaning inside-out, reaching all crevices and edges for complete removal of debris and plaque.

Step 3: Rinse Again

Eliminate Cleaning Agents

Thoroughly rinse your mouth guard to remove any remnants of toothpaste or soap. Complete removal of cleaning agents is vital to prevent potential irritation or ingestion.

Step 4: Soak

Disinfect and Remove Bacteria

Consider soaking your mouth guard in a denture cleaner or a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. Follow package instructions for denture cleaner or soak for 15-30 minutes in the peroxide solution. This step disinfects and eliminates lingering bacteria.

Step 5: Final Rinse

Clear of Cleaning Solution

After soaking, ensure a final thorough rinse to remove any remaining cleaning solution residue, ensuring the mouth guard is clean and free from any chemical remnants.

Step 6: Dry and Store

Prevent Bacterial Growth

Air-dry your mouth guard completely before storing it in a clean, ventilated case. This helps prevent bacterial growth in a moist environment. Avoid direct sunlight or hot water, which can damage the material.

Step 7: Regular Maintenance

Consistent Cleaning Routine

Emphasize cleaning your mouth guard after every use to maintain its freshness and hygiene. Highlight the avoidance of hot water, harsh chemicals, or abrasive materials that may cause damage.

Remember, it’s also essential to follow any specific cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer of your mouth guard, as different materials may have different care requirements.

defend your teeth against the daily grind graphic

How often should I clean my mouth guard?

Cleaning your mouth guard regularly is crucial for maintaining good oral hygiene and extending its lifespan. Here’s a general guideline for how often to clean your mouth guard:

After Every Use:

  • Rinse Immediately: After each use, rinse your mouth guard thoroughly with cool water to remove saliva, debris, or any food particles.
  • Daily Cleaning: Clean your mouth guard daily using a soft toothbrush and mild soap or non-abrasive toothpaste to prevent bacterial buildup.

Can I store my mouth guard in water?

No, it is generally not recommended to store your mouth guard in water. While it may seem logical to keep it moist, storing your mouth guard in water can actually promote the growth of bacteria and increase the risk of microbial contamination.

Moist environments provide a favorable breeding ground for bacteria, and if your mouth guard is left submerged in water, it can become a potential source of bacterial growth. This can lead to unpleasant odors, increased risk of oral infections, and potential health concerns.

Instead, it is advisable to store your mouth guard in a clean, ventilated case that allows for proper airflow. This helps to keep the mouth guard dry and reduces the risk of bacterial proliferation. Make sure the case is clean and dry before storing your mouth guard to maintain its cleanliness and prevent any unwanted odors.

If you prefer to keep your mouth guard moist or need to store it for an extended period, you can consider using a specialized mouth guard cleaning solution or a denture cleaner recommended by your dentist. These products are designed to disinfect and maintain oral appliances. Always follow the instructions provided with the cleaning solution or consult your dentist for specific recommendations.

Remember to clean your mouth guard thoroughly before storing it and allow it to dry completely to prevent any bacterial growth. Regular cleaning and proper storage will help ensure the hygiene and effectiveness of your mouth guard.

Can I soak my mouth guard in mouthwash?

Soaking your night guard in mouthwash is generally not recommended. While mouthwash can help freshen your breath and kill some bacteria, it is not designed or formulated to effectively clean or disinfect mouth guards.

Mouthwash typically contains alcohol and other ingredients that can potentially damage the material of your night guard over time. Extended exposure to alcohol or harsh chemicals may cause the night guard to become brittle, discolored, or lose its shape.

cleaning your mouth guard or night guard

If you are looking for an alternative to deep clean your night guard, it’s best to use a cleaning solution specifically formulated for oral appliances or follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. These products are designed to effectively clean and disinfect mouth guards without causing damage.

If you still want to use mouthwash as part of your cleaning routine, you can consider rinsing your night guard with mouthwash for a brief period (30 seconds to 1 minute) after regular cleaning. This can provide a temporary freshening effect. However, it’s important to thoroughly rinse the night guard with water afterward to remove any residue and prevent potential damage.

Always refer to the specific instructions provided by your dentist or the manufacturer of your night guard for the most appropriate cleaning methods and solutions.

How do I deep clean my mouth guard correctly?

To perform a deep clean on your mouth guard, you can follow these steps:

Step 1: Rinse

Preparing for Deep Cleaning

Start by rinsing your mouth guard with cool water to eliminate loose debris or surface contaminants.

Step 2: Brush

Gentle Scrubbing

Using a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste or mild soap, gently brush the entire surface of the mouth guard. Ensure comprehensive cleaning inside and outside, targeting crevices and grooves for thorough removal of stubborn residue or plaque buildup.

Step 3: Soak

Disinfecting Solution

Create a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. Submerge the mouth guard in this solution for 15-30 minutes. The hydrogen peroxide acts as a disinfectant, eliminating bacteria and stains. (Note: Check compatibility with your mouth guard’s material before soaking in hydrogen peroxide.)

Step 4: Rinse Thoroughly

Clear of Cleaning Solution

After the soaking period, rinse the mouth guard meticulously with water, ensuring complete removal of any remaining cleaning solution.

Step 5: Alternative Cleaning

Denture Cleaner Option

Alternatively, consider using a denture cleaner specifically formulated for oral appliances. Follow the cleaner’s instructions to effectively clean and disinfect your mouth guard without causing damage.

Step 6: Final Dry and Store

Preventing Bacterial Growth

Air-dry your mouth guard thoroughly before storing it in a clean, ventilated case. This practice prevents bacterial proliferation in a moist environment and safeguards the mouth guard’s cleanliness.

Performing a deep clean on your mouth guard periodically, in addition to regular daily cleaning, will help maintain its cleanliness and hygiene. Remember to follow any specific cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer and consult your dentist if you have any concerns or questions about deep cleaning your particular mouth guard.

Avoid hot water, bleach, harsh abrasives

Harsh abrasives, hot water or bleach may permanently damage your mouth guard. Never boil your mouth guard or soak your mouth guard in bleach. If you choose to clean your guard with baking soda, be sure to dilute the baking soda in water first and scrub gently.

What happens if I don’t clean my mouth guard?

If you don’t clean your mouth guard regularly, several issues can arise:

  1. Bacterial growth: Your mouth is full of bacteria, and when you wear a mouth guard, saliva and bacteria can get trapped on its surface. Over time, if not properly cleaned, these bacteria can multiply and form a biofilm or plaque. This can lead to unpleasant odors, bad breath, and an increased risk of oral infections.
  2. Risk of dental issues: Failing to clean your mouth guard can contribute to dental problems. The accumulated bacteria on the mouth guard can transfer back into your mouth, potentially causing tooth decay, gum disease, or other oral infections. Additionally, if the mouth guard is not cleaned properly, it may become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can lead to oral health issues.
  3. Reduced effectiveness: A dirty mouth guard can lose its effectiveness in protecting your teeth and gums. Bacteria buildup can compromise the integrity of the mouth guard material and reduce its ability to provide a proper fit. This can diminish its ability to absorb impact, protect against injuries, or prevent teeth grinding (if you use a night guard).
  4. Unpleasant taste and odor: Neglecting to clean your mouth guard can result in a foul taste and odor. Bacteria and food particles can accumulate on the mouth guard, leading to an unpleasant smell or taste when you wear it.
  5. Potential health risks: In rare cases, if a mouth guard is not cleaned regularly, it may become contaminated with harmful bacteria, fungi, or viruses. This can increase the risk of infections, particularly if you have any cuts or sores in your mouth.

To avoid these issues, it’s crucial to establish a routine of regularly cleaning and maintaining your mouth guard as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper cleaning and storage will help ensure the longevity of your mouth guard and maintain your oral health.

What is the white stuff on my night guard?

The white stuff that you may notice on your night guard is most likely plaque or tartar buildup. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the surfaces of your teeth and oral appliances when bacteria combine with saliva and food particles. Over time, if not removed, plaque can harden and turn into tartar, which is a calcified deposit that is more difficult to remove.

When you wear your night guard, it can collect bacteria, saliva, and food debris from your mouth. If you do not clean your night guard regularly or properly, this buildup can occur, resulting in the white or off-white appearance on the surface of the guard.

To address this issue, it is important to clean your night guard regularly and thoroughly. Follow the cleaning instructions provided by your dentist or the manufacturer of your night guard. Regular brushing with a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste or mild soap can help remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup.

If you notice significant or stubborn plaque or tartar on your night guard that is difficult to remove, it may be necessary to perform a deeper clean. You can try soaking the night guard in a denture cleaner or a solution of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide for a designated period, as per the instructions. This can help break down and remove the buildup.

If the issue persists or if you have any concerns, it’s recommended to consult your dentist. They can assess the condition of your night guard and provide specific guidance on cleaning and maintenance to ensure its longevity and hygiene.

Why do night guards turn yellow?

Night guards can turn yellow due to several factors:

  1. Staining: Night guards are constantly exposed to the pigments found in various foods and beverages, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and strongly colored foods. These pigments can gradually seep into the material of the night guard, leading to discoloration and yellowing over time.
  2. Plaque and tartar buildup: If the night guard is not cleaned regularly or thoroughly, plaque and tartar can accumulate on its surface. These deposits can contribute to the yellowing of the night guard as they contain bacteria and other substances that can discolor the material.
  3. Inadequate cleaning: Improper cleaning techniques or using abrasive toothpaste can damage the surface of the night guard, making it more prone to staining and discoloration. It’s important to follow the recommended cleaning instructions and use non-abrasive cleaning agents.
  4. Aging and wear: Night guards are subject to wear and tear over time. The natural breakdown of the material can cause changes in color, making the night guard appear yellow or discolored.
  5. Material properties: Different types of night guard materials may have inherent properties that make them more susceptible to yellowing. For example, certain types of thermoplastic materials may be more prone to discoloration compared to others.

For a truly great clean

how to deep clean night guard
An ultrasonic cleaning machine can deep clean jewelry, metal parts, dental night guards & mouth guards, etc.

Buy an ultrasonic cleaning machine. This machine will shake any debris or particulates off of your guard. This machine is also great for removing white buildup that can accumulate on a night guard.

How does it work?

The transducer in the ultrasonic machine creates high-frequency compression sound waves. This movement results in the formation of cavitation bubbles. These microscopic bubbles travel to the object in the machine and implode onto the surface of whatever it’s attached to causing the removal of the contaminant. The intensity of this process is highly effective for producing the best “clean” available.

How to Clean Your Night Guard Video Guide

Here’s a quick summary of basic cleaning concepts that apply to all night guards:

  • All dental night guards and sports mouth guards should be cleaned immediately after use and before storing them.
  • Allow your mouth guard to completely dry prior to storage.
  • Clean your retainer guard case/holder regularly, as it may harbor dust and bacteria.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals, hot water, or abrasive products to clean your appliance unless directed to do so by your dentist.
  • Not cleaning your teeth before wearing your night guard can cause food stains and bacteria to transfer to your appliance. Additionally, allowing saliva and water to sit in your guard can lead to changes in the way it looks.

Why does my mouth guard have black spots?

The presence of black spots on your mouth guard can be attributed to a few possible causes:

  1. Mold or mildew: If your mouth guard is not properly cleaned and stored in a clean, dry environment, it can become a breeding ground for mold or mildew. These fungi can appear as black or dark spots on the surface of the mouth guard. This typically occurs when the mouth guard is left damp or stored in a closed container without proper ventilation.
  2. Staining: Certain foods, beverages, or oral care products can contain pigments or dyes that may cause staining on the surface of your mouth guard. Over time, these stains can appear as black spots. For example, if you consume beverages like coffee or red wine while wearing your mouth guard, it can lead to discoloration.
  3. Material deterioration: Depending on the type of material your mouth guard is made of, it may be prone to deterioration or degradation over time. Some materials can develop dark spots or discoloration as they age or when exposed to certain conditions, such as exposure to sunlight, heat, or chemicals.

To address black spots on your mouth guard, you can try the following:

  1. Clean and disinfect: Thoroughly clean your mouth guard using a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste or mild soap. Pay close attention to the areas with black spots, gently scrubbing them to remove any visible discoloration.
  2. Soak in a denture cleaner: Consider soaking your mouth guard in a denture cleaner or a solution of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. This can help remove any microbial growth or stains. Follow the instructions provided with the denture cleaner or soak for the recommended duration.
  3. Rinse and inspect: After cleaning and soaking, rinse your mouth guard thoroughly to remove any residue or cleaning solution. Inspect the mouth guard for any remaining black spots or discoloration. If the spots persist or if you have concerns about the integrity of the mouth guard, it may be necessary to consult your dentist for further evaluation or replacement.

It’s important to establish a regular cleaning routine and proper storage practices for your mouth guard to prevent the recurrence of black spots. Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer or your dentist, and avoid exposing the mouth guard to conditions that may promote fungal growth or material degradation.

Remember, mold is a microscopic, living organism. It is not a disease or a virus.

How do I know when to replace my mouth guard?

Knowing when to replace your mouth guard can depend on several factors. Here are some indicators that may suggest it’s time to replace your mouth guard:

  1. Wear and tear: Over time, regular use can cause the material of your mouth guard to deteriorate or lose its shape. If you notice significant signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, tears, or thinning of the material, it may be time to replace it. Damaged mouth guards may not provide adequate protection or fit properly, compromising their effectiveness.
  2. Changes in fit: If your mouth guard no longer fits snugly and comfortably, it may be a sign that it needs to be replaced. Factors such as growth, changes in tooth alignment, or natural wear of the material can cause the fit to become loose or uncomfortable. An ill-fitting mouth guard may not provide sufficient protection or may cause discomfort during use.
  3. Discoloration or odor: Persistent discoloration, foul odors, or an unpleasant taste even after thorough cleaning may indicate the presence of bacteria, mold, or other contaminants that are difficult to remove. If the discoloration or odor persists despite proper cleaning, it may be a sign that the mouth guard is no longer hygienic and should be replaced.
  4. Time frame: Mouth guards typically have a limited lifespan. Depending on the type of mouth guard and the materials used, it is generally recommended to replace them every 6 months to 2 years. However, this can vary depending on factors such as frequency of use, wear and tear, and the specific recommendations from your dentist or the manufacturer.
  5. Dental changes: If you undergo significant dental changes, such as orthodontic treatment, dental restorations, or tooth loss, it may be necessary to replace your mouth guard to ensure proper fit and protection. Changes in tooth alignment or dental work can affect the fit and effectiveness of the mouth guard.

It’s important to consult with your dentist for guidance on when to replace your specific mouth guard. They can assess its condition, consider any dental changes you’ve undergone, and provide recommendations based on your individual circumstances. Regular dental check-ups are also an opportunity for your dentist to evaluate the condition of your mouth guard and advise you on when it should be replaced.

Time to replace your night guard?

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Conclusion

Keeping your mouth guard clean is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene and ensuring its effectiveness. Regular cleaning and proper maintenance will help prevent bacterial growth, unpleasant odors, and potential oral health issues. Here are the key steps to effectively clean your mouth guard:

  1. Rinse your mouth guard with cool water before and after each use to remove loose debris.
  2. Gently brush your mouth guard using a soft toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste or mild soap. Clean all surfaces, including the inside and outside, and pay attention to crevices and grooves.
  3. Avoid using hot water, which can damage the material, and refrain from using abrasive cleaners that can scratch the surface.
  4. Periodically perform a deep clean by soaking your mouth guard in a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide or using a denture cleaner as per the instructions.
  5. Thoroughly rinse your mouth guard after soaking or cleaning to remove any residue.
  6. Allow your mouth guard to air dry completely before storing it in a clean, ventilated case.

Remember, storing your mouth guard in water is not recommended, as it can promote bacterial growth. Additionally, avoid using mouthwash or exposing your mouth guard to harsh chemicals that may damage the material.

By following these cleaning guidelines and replacing your mouth guard as needed, you can ensure its longevity, hygiene, and maintain optimal oral health. Regular dental check-ups can also provide guidance on proper mouth guard care and help assess its condition. With a clean mouth guard, you can enjoy its protective benefits with peace of mind.

Author

sentinel mouthguards author
Ashely Notarmaso

Ashely Notarmaso is the author behind the Sentinel Mouth Guard Blog. She is the CEO and founder of Sentinel Mouth Guards (Founded in 2012) Her long-time work in the dental mouth guard arena and her excellent ability to listen to customer concerns in this often contradictory field has laid the groundwork to explore night guard/mouth guard fabrication in-depth and address real concerns. With the help of her team, she has created a unique fabrication method that promises a great fitting custom oral appliance every time. Amazon’s choice for #1 mouth guard! Visit the online store http://sentinelmouthguards.com

Verified By

Medically reviewd by: Sharon Boyd, MA, BS, RDH

Registered Dental Hygienist Issuing authority Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
Texas Tech University

Sharon Boyd is registered dental hygienist for over 10 years. She is a dental writer and regular contributor to many platforms.

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