Night guards are valuable aids that can protect your teeth from wear and tear. But what can you do to prevent wear and tear on your night guard? After weeks or months of use, your night guard can develop an unsightly yellow appearance. Here are some of the best dentist-approved tips for keeping your night guard looking fresh.
How to Care For Your Night Guard
The first step to reinvigorating your night guard’s appearance is a daily care routine that includes a bit of basic cleaning. First, you’ll want to rinse off your night guard with warm water whenever you remove it. Don’t use any cleaners or chemicals here, just regular tap water. This basic rinse will help keep your night guard free from plaque, debris, and saliva when you store it.
Next, give your night guard a quick brush with your toothbrush. It’s a good idea to use a special toothbrush for this, not the same toothbrush you use to brush your teeth. You may be tempted to use toothpaste to scrub your night guard but opt for mild soap instead. Your goal is to get rid of any plaque or other sticky contaminants that are on your night guard with a little bit of gentle brushing.
Third, set your night guard out in a safe place to dry. This step is important to prevent bacteria from growing on your night guard. Most night guards take 15 to 30 minutes to dry, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to start your morning routine before you return. Shower, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day – just don’t forget about the final step!
Once your night guard is dry, it’s important to store it in a case. Ideally, you’ll want to leave this case in your bedroom, as the humidity and temperature fluctuations in bathrooms can warp night guards over time. The case will help prevent humidity, pets, bacteria, and other unwanted contaminants from getting to your night guard, keeping it fresh and clean for its next use.
How to Remove Stains From Night Guard
Experts recommend performing a deep clean on your night guard about once a month. This thorough wash is a great way to remove surface stains and make your night guard look good as new.
Denture Cleaning Tablets
The best (and simplest) way to perform this deep clean is to use an over-the-counter denture cleaning product. Thoroughly mix the product with water in a glass or bowl, drop in your night guard, and let it sit for about half an hour. After it’s done, give it a thorough rinse with warm water, let it dry, and return it to its case.
Vinegar & Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
Instead of using a denture cleaning product, you can use a combination of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to clean stains from your night guard. First, soak the night guard in a glass or bowl filled with vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse it off, then soak it in a glass or bowl filled with hydrogen peroxide for another half hour. One final rinse and you’re all done! As usual, let the night guard dry and then return it to its case.
These cleaning methods can be quite effective for mild stains. If you still don’t get the results you’re looking for with these methods, try getting in touch with your local dentist’s office. They’ll usually be able to provide a stronger cleaning service for a small fee, helping your night guard look brand new.
How NOT to Clean Your Night Guard
Night guards are designed to be durable enough to withstand your teeth, but they can be quite fragile when it comes to cleaning products, heat, and other hazards. Here are a few of the things you should definitely avoid when cleaning and storing your night guard to keep it safe and free from stains and other damage.
Never Boil Your Dental Night Guard
First, keep your night guard away from extreme heat. The materials used in the construction of your night guard will soften and warp when they get hot, meaning you should never boil your night guard or even rinse it with hot water. Limit your care to solutions involving room temperature water to ensure that your night guard keeps its shape and stays effective.
Keep Your Night Guard Dry
Second, keep your night guard dry when it’s not in use. Prolonged exposure to moisture can encourage microbial growth and damage your night guard’s structural integrity. Never soak it in anything for longer than 30 minutes unless your dentist specifically tells you to do so. Make sure that you dry it completely before returning it to its case.
Third, keep your night guard in a safe place at room temperature. Bathrooms often aren’t the best location to store your night guard due to the heat and humidity produced by your shower. Be careful about pets, children, and other hazards that might damage your night guard when it’s being stored. In many households, a high shelf or drawer is a much better place to leave your night guard than a nightstand, even if these locations are slightly less convenient at bedtime.
How Long Do Night Guards Last?
With proper care, night guards have an average lifespan of about five years. The durability of a night guard will vary from person to person, however, as different users will put their night guard under more or less strain than others. It’s not uncommon for night guards to be replaced after one to three years when they’re subjected to higher-than-average wear.