Wearing your dental mouth guard every night is essential for solving your teeth grinding problem. But with such frequent use, the device is bound to get caked in calcium and plaque over time. Not a big deal if you bought a cheap over the counter occlusal guard – just buy a new one. However, if you have an expensive custom-fitted night guard from your dentist, you’ll want to do everything you can to maintain it. Here’s how to clean a mouth guard so it stays fresh and hygienic.
Of course, the most important thing you can do is read the manufacturer instructions. They may recommend one method over another based on the design of the product. However, if the instructions in the manual are incomplete or insufficient, here are four things you can try:
1. Use a Toothbrush
For most night guards, you should clean them the same way you clean your own teeth – using a toothbrush and toothpaste. This also goes for soft moldable night guards you buy over the counter (just be careful not to use hot water on them, or they may change shape). Unless your occlusal guard’s instructions say different, brush it every morning after use and store in a protective case during the day.
2. Soak in Mouthwash or Mouth Guard Cleaner
If you have a non-porous mouth guard, you can usually soak it in mouthwash to sanitize it. Again, read the instructions to make sure this doesn’t cause problem with your particular brand of occlusal guard. Some mouth guards may deteriorate if left to soak too long in mouth wash.
Another option is to use denture cleaning products or a specially designed mouth guard cleaner. Some people also suggest soaking your night guard in a vinegar and bleach solution. The danger here is that you could end up permanently “tainting” your mouth guard with a foul taste you can’t remove.
3. Use a Special Device Like SonicBrite
If you want to take your hygiene to a new level, there are special electronic gadgets on the market for sanitizing dental devices. Many of these products use sonic waves to break up food particles, plaque, and other buildup. One popular and highly rated option is the SonicBrite Professional Cleansing System. Devices like this make it easy to do professional-level mouth guard cleaning on a daily basis.
As you might imagine, this is one of the more expensive options. Still, machines like SonicBrite are affordable for most people. If you’ve used a night guard for a long time – and will be using one for a long time to come – getting a fancy cleaner is probably worth the cost.
4. Have Your Dentist Do It
Finally, if you got your occlusal guard from the dentist, you can bring it in when you have your regular checkups. Your dentist should have special cleaning equipment to get rid of any buildup. Also be sure to ask your dentist about how to keep the device clean in between appointments. If anyone should know how to clean a mouth guard, it would be your dentist.