Mouth guards are designed to protect your teeth from damage. Millions of Americans use mouth guards while playing sports, as well as while they are asleep. Unfortunately, if your mouth guard is not properly cleaned, bacteria can infiltrate the mouth guard, resulting in a host of dental problems. Learning how to clean your mouth guard will prevent bacteria growth.

How To Clean A Mouth Guard

Rinse After Wearing

As soon as you remove your mouth guard, you should rinse the mouth guard using warm water. Rinsing your mouth guard every time you use it removes plaque and debris that may have built up inside your mouth guard during use.

Tip – Make sure that you properly brush your teeth and use a mouthwash with fluoride before putting a mouth guard in to protect your teeth.

Brush Your Mouth Guard After Wearing

After your mouth guard has been rinsed, it needs a light brushing to remove any debris or plaque that was not rinsed away. To properly brush your mouth guard, wet your electric toothbrush using warm water and gently scrub the interior and exterior surfaces of your mouth guard. Follow with a fast rinse to remove any loosened debris.

Tip – Do not use toothpaste when brushing your mouth guard as toothpaste is abrasive and can cause your mouth guard to wear out faster.

Drying Your Mouth Guard

Once you have cleaned your mouth guard, it needs to completely dry before you place it back into its case to prevent rapid bacterial growth. Never dry your mouth guard using a towel. Instead, place the mouth guard on a clean, dry surface and allow it to air dry. Air drying a mouth guard takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes. If you clean your mouth guard as soon as you wake, it should be dried and ready to store in its case by the time you get ready to start your day.

Storing Your Mouth Guard

After your mouth guard has air dried, it should be stored inside its case. If a mouth guard is not kept in its case when not in use, the humidity in your home can cause your mouth guard to warp over time. Do not keep your mouth guard, even inside its case, in your bathroom. Instead, store it on your nightstand away from excess moisture and humidity.

How to Clean Your Case

A dirty case is just as bad as not cleaning and air drying your mouth guard. Imagine putting your freshly showered body into dirty clothes. The thought is gross, isn’t it? Bacteria can grow inside your mouth guard case if it is not cleaned correctly. To prevent excess bacteria growth, hand wash your mouth guard case at least twice a week. Never put your mouth guard case in your dishwasher as the high temperatures found in a dishwasher can warp or melt the plastic. Mouth guard cases should be replaced semi-annually or annually.

How to Deep Clean Your Mouth Guard

To make sure your mouth guard lasts, you should deep clean your mouth guard once a week. You have three options for deep cleaning your mouth guard, including using a denture cleaner, a mixture of peroxide and vinegar, or mouthwash.

  • Denture Cleaner – Fill a glass with warm water and dissolve a denture cleaner tablet in the water before placing your mouth guard in the mixture. Soak your mouth guard for 20 minutes. Finally, rinse and allow to air dry before storing your mouth guard in your case.
  • Peroxide and Vinegar – Fill a glass with vinegar and soak your mouth guard for 20 to 30 minutes. Once done, rinse the mouth guard and glass with water. Fill the glass with peroxide and soak for another 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse the mouth guard and glass and allow to air dry. Although this method takes the longest, it removes more bacteria and plaque buildup from your mouth guard.
  • Mouthwash – Place 40 ml of your favorite mouthwash in a glass of water. Soak your mouth guard for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse and allow to air dry.

Tip – No matter which method you choose, never allow the mouth guard to remain in the solution longer than 30 minutes to prevent degradation of the mouth guard.

Mouth guards are designed to protect your teeth. To ensure your mouth guard is protecting your teeth, take it with you to each dental appointment. Your dentist will inspect the mouth guard and ensure it still fits properly. While at your appointment, speak with your dentist to ensure you know how to clean your mouth guard.